Razorbacks Fall to Notre Dame in Stephens Cup Final

ROLAND – Arkansas ended the fall portion of its 2021-22 schedule with a 4-1 loss to Notre Dame in the Jackson T. Stephens Cup Match Play Championship Wednesday at the Alotian Club.

In four matches this fall, Arkansas was third at the Carmel Cup, won the Blessings Collegiate Invitational, won the SEC Match Play and was runner-up at the Stephens Cup.

Notre Dame and Arkansas were the top two seeds after three rounds (and two days) of stroke play with the Fighting Irish winning stroke play and the Razorbacks coming in second.

While the match play final score was strongly in the Fighting Irish’s favor, the matches were much closer with two matches being decided on the 18th holes and two on the 17th.

Notre Dame put two points on the board early to take a 2-0 lead.

In the first match, Notre Dame’s Taichi Kho won the first hole and was 5-up through nine holes. However, Segundo Oliva Pinto fought his way back to tie the match after winning six of seven holes on the back nine. The match came down to the 18th green with Kho winning with a bogey for a 1-up decision.

Davis Chatfield defeated Luke Long, 6&4, in match three to give the Fighting Irish a 2-0 cushion.

Juan Camilo Vesga, playing in the second match, put Arkansas’ first point on the board with a 2&1 victory over Patrick Kelly. Neither player led by more than one with six ties through 14 holes. Vesga won the 15th then closed out the match with a par on the 17th to cut the Razorback deficit to 2-1.

There were two matches on the course to decide the champion.

In match four, Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira was in a tight battle wit Andrew O’Leary. Fernandez de Oliveira won the first hole and was 2-up through four holes. O’Leary won holes 5 and 6 to tie the match. Fernandez de Oliveira briefly took a 1-up lead, but O’Leary won the 9th hole to square the match at the turn. Fernandez de Oliveira won the 11th and 12th holes to lead 2-up. However, O’Leary once again rallied to level the match with wins on holes 14 and 15. O’Leary also won the 17th and the two had pars on the 18th and give Notre Dame the 1-up win in the match and secured the Fighting Irish’s third and decisive point.

In the final match, Wil Gibson fell to Palmer Jackson, who was runner=up to Fernandez de Oliveira for stroke play medalist. Gibson stayed within one most of the match. Jackson then won holes 10, 14 and 15 to lead by three with three holes to play. Gibson flushed a 28-foot putt on the par-3 16th to extend the match before Jackson won the 17th for the 2&1 win.

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