(Photo courtesy Ohio State Athletics Department. Tournament information courtesy of Ohio State Athletics Department and USC Athletics Department. Tournament scoring and statistics courtesy of Birdiefire)
Welcome to the Tuesday, and final round, Gifford Cup recap. After splitting two matches on Monday, the Buckeyes played Georgia for the 5th place match. Here is the link to the tournament information and Buckeye results for their Monday morning match. Here is recap for their Monday afternoon match.
Jessica Porvasnik tied her match, but won on a tie-breaker (more on that below) to award the team match to the Buckeyes. The win put Ohio State into 5th place. After losing their opening team match, the Buckeyes won their final two matches to finish on quite a strong note.
To resolve this match, the committee resorted to their tie-breaker procedure. The first tie-breaker would award the match to the team that had the most winning holes. That was a tie. The next tie-breaker was the team that scored the first point; since Jessica was the first Buckeye to tee off and won her match; the tie-breaker went to Ohio State.
This session was extremely close, marked by each team winning a match 3&2, each winning a match 1-up and a fifth match ending all square.
Jessica Porvasnik won her match 3&2. Niki Schroeder won her match 1-up. Katja Pogacar halved her match. Jaclyn Lee lost her match 1-up. Rio Watanabe, lost her match 3&2.
Niki started strong with 2 birdies and a 2-up lead through nine holes. After 12 holes the match was all square. Although her opponent played the closing 6 holes in a solid even par, Niki was even better, playing the same stretch in -1 to close out the match with a 1-up win.
Rio had a well played opening nine holes; she had 9 pars and held a 1-up lead at the turn. A bogey on the 10th hole squared the match, then Rio and her opponent matched pars for the next three holes. Then it went sideways. She lost the next hole (to a birdie), then bogeys on the next two holes ended the match on the short side 3&2.
Jessica’s match was not a work of art, but style points don’t come into play. All that you have to do is play better than your opponent and Jessica was the better player. After nine holes, Jessica held a 1-up lead; with both players combining for 9 bogeys, the first two hours were a struggle. However, on the back nine, Jessica played the seven holes of the match in an impressive -1 to par to close out the match 3&2.
Katja’s match was probably one that I’d have paid to watch. The march ended all square and neither player had a lead that exceeded 1-up. Katja carded 3 birdies and a round of -2 to par. Her opponent had 5 birdies and a round of -1 to par. If you’re a “purist”, this was the match for you.
Jaclyn and her opponent each played their first nine holes in -1 and stood at all square. However, the match turned when Jaclyn bogeyed her 11th and 12th holes to go 2-down. A birdie on the 14th hole brought her to within 1-down, but matching pars over the final four holes ended the match with a 1-down loss.
I’m not sure how the decision to assign the match order went, but it turned out to be pure genius on the part of coaches Hession and Snider. Leading off with your top-ranked player certainly paid off (tie-breaking procedure) for the Buckeyes. I’m not sure this scenario was anticipated, but it worked out very well.
Normally I’d get into the statistics (scoring, birdies, pars, etc) but in match play, those stats are fairly irrelevant. For example, in the Tuesday round, two Buckeyes, Jessica and Rio, had rounds of +3 to par (through 16 holes). Jessica won her match, Rio lost hers. All that Jessica can do is sigh in relief; all that Rio can do is just shrug. That’s part of the charm of mach play, you just never know…
The Buckeyes head back to the course almost immediately. They head to John’s Island, SC for the Briar Creek Invitational which will take place March 20-21.