Hitchner, Pepperdine Win East Lake Cup
October 28, 2020
ATLANTA -- The last two months of the 2019-20 college golf season were wiped out by the Covid 19 pandemic this spring. So there were no NCAA championship tournaments for the men or the women. But the Pepperdine men's team won the closest thing there has been to a 2020 NCAA Championship on Wednesday, as the No. 1-ranked Waves defeated No. 2 Oklahoma 4-1 in the match-play final at the East Lake Cup.
Derek Hitchner, a junior from Blake -- and a former Minnesota state Class AA high school champion -- put the Waves' second point on the board with a 3&2 victory over Logan McAllister.
On Tuesday, Hitchner beat Garrett Martin 6&4 in Pepperdine's 3-2 victory over Texas Tech in the semifinals.
Playing 30 holes of match play in his two matches, Hitchner never trailed and was ahead after 28 of those holes. The only two holes after which he was tied were the first two on Wednesday against McAllister. But Hitchner won the 391-yard third with a birdie and the 476-yard fourth with a par. He was 3 up after a birdie at the seventh (480 yards, par 4).
A bogey at the 213-yard, par-3 15th trimmed his lead to 2 up, but he won the 434-yard, par-4 16th with a par to close out the match.
Hitchner was 2 under for the 16 holes he played against McAllister.
Basically, the 2020-21 college season, such as it is -- a lot of teams, including Minnesota, haven't played this fall -- is a continuation of 2019-20. Anyone who was a senior last season is still considered a senior by the NCAA. The East Lake Cup, which was played at the iconic East Lake Club (Bobby Jones' home course), brought together the top four teams from the rankings as they were in March, when the 19-20 season was suspended. And just as in the NCAA Championship, there was a stroke-play competition (Monday) and teams were seeded based on that.
Oklahoma won the stroke-play portion with a combined score of 278 (10 under par). Pepperdine was second at 285, Texas Tech third at 286, and Texas fourth at even-par 288.
The Sooners' Patrick Welch was the medalist with a 67 (5 under). His teammate Quade Cummins and Pepperdine's R.J. Manke tied for second with 69's. Hitchner shot 71 and tied for seventh.
In Wednesday's match for the team title, Pepperdine's Joe Highsmith who tied for 15th in a field of 20 players, drilled Welch 5&4 to claim the first point for the Waves.
In the women's final, South Carolina, which is coached by former Edina High School star Kalen Anderson, played Mississippi. South Carolina got the first two points, but Mississippi came back to win the last three and take the East Lake Cup crown with a 3-2 victory. Anderson played on four state championship teams in a span of five years with the Hornets. She also played on Duke's first NCAA championship team in 1999 and was an assistant coach for another of Blue Devils' NCAA championship teams (2007).
East Lake Cup
At East Lake Golf Club
Par 72, 7,374 yards
Pepperdine 4, Oklahoma 1
Derek Hitchner (P) def. Logan McAllister 3&2
Joe Highsmith (P) def. Patrick Welch 5&4
Jonathan Brightwell (O) def. William Mouw 2&1
R.J. Manke (P) def. Quade Cummins 2&1
Dylan Menante (P) def. Garett Reband 5&4
Stroke Play (Monday)
1. Oklahoma 278
2. Pepperdine 285
3. Texas Tech 286
4. Texas 288
1. Patrick Welch, Okla. 67
T2. Quade Cummins, Okla. 69
T2. R.J. Manke, Pepperdine 69
T4. Garrett Martin, Texas Tech 70
T4. Travis Vick, Texas 70
T4. Jonathan Brightwell, Okla. 70
T7. Derek Hitchner, Pepperdine 71
T7. Dylan Menante, Pepperdine 71
T7. Baard Skogen, T. Tech 71
T7. Pierceson Coody, Texas 71