Men’s golf wins ACC crown

Wake Forest is the second ACC school to win the conference championship in both men’s and women’s golf


Courtesy of the ACC

The men’s golf team poses with the trophy.

Essex Thayer, Sports Editor

For the first time since 1989, the men’s golf ACC crown is coming home to Winston-Salem. After going to extra holes in the final match, senior Alex Fitzpatrick gave Wake Forest the 3-2 win over Georgia Tech on the 21st hole.

What an incredible feeling,” Wake Forest head coach Jerry Haas said. “I’m so happy for these players. They’re good kids.”

The tournament victory marks the 19th in program history, but the first under Haas, who is in his 24th year leading the Demon Deacons.

“They’re all telling me ‘this one’s for you, coach,’” Haas said. “In some ways, I feel it, but no, they do all the work. We have young men that want to be pro golfers and it’s hard to do it all, but they do it and they do it well. It’s so, so great.”

In the opening match of the day, junior Mark Power fell behind to Christo Lamprecht on the first hole and was never able to recover. At the turn, Lamprecht held a three-hole lead and was able to close the match out 5&4 on the 14th hole.

In the fourth match — the other that did not remain close — freshman Scotty Kennon fell to Bartley Forrester 4&2. After taking a lead on the first hole, Kennon allowed Forrester to tie the match. Then the Yellow Jacket took the lead on the fourth hole and never relinquished it.

The remaining three decisive matches for Wake Forest continued to stay close over the course of the day. 

In the second match between graduate Parker Gillam and Connor Howe, Gillam took a one-hole lead on the second hole, but Howe fought back, squared the match through the fifth hole, and then took the lead on the eighth and a two-hole lead on the ninth. By the 12th hole, though, Gillam had worked the match back to square.

The third match between sophomore Michael Brennan and Ross Steelman appeared to be well in hand for the Demon Deacon for the first half of the day. Brennan secured the lead on the third hole and continuously pulled ahead, leading by four holes through 10.

In the closing match, Fitzpatrick led after the first hole and was able to maintain a small lead throughout the first eight holes, where he led by two.

At 12:43 p.m. on Monday, Lamprecht and Forrester were well on their way to winning a point for Georgia Tech, but the other three matches were up for the taking, and Wake Forest needed every single one of them.

Thirty minutes later, the pendulum swung towards the Demon Deacons for the first time all day. Gillam had taken a one-hole lead with a birdie on the 14th hole, and Fitzpatrick had maintained his two-hole lead through 10. Brennan, though, had let his four-hole lead slip to two through 12. One hole later, Brennan’s lead was one.

Late in the back nine, a match that, at one point, had seemed well in hand for Wake Forest, became the most precarious of the day. Brennan, after hitting a big putt on the 14th hole to keep his lead, gave it up on the 15th. 

Then, on the 16th hole, Steelman took his first lead of the day. That lead would give Georgia Tech enough points to win the championship if it held, and Gillam and Fitzpatrick both only led by one hole.

In a time when Wake Forest was down and could have folded, they fought back hard. Gillam closed his match out on the 18th hole to win by two, but still, the championship could end with Brennan. On the 17th hole, Brennan kept Wake Forest’s hopes alive by winning the hole, taking the match to the decisive 18th all square.

On the 18th, both players hit perfect tee shots, along with nice irons onto the green. Both were within putting range to win the hole. From roughly 12 feet out, Steelman over-putted and lipped the ball out of the hole. From 10-feet, Brennan calmly sunk his putt. With a fist pump and a yell that was audible on the broadcast, the Demon Deacons were still alive, and their championship hopes were left in the hands of Fitzpatrick.

At the time of the Brennan victory to tie the championship, Fitzpatrick was walking off the 16th hole with a one-hole lead. On the 17th hole, Reuter took advantage of a deep putt for birdie to tie the match, leaving the 18th hole to possibly decide the championship.

After a poor tee shot, Fitzpatrick was left with a troublesome shot to stay in the match but recovered well to hit the green. Both players were unable to sink their birdie putts for a victory and, with individual pars, the match moved forward to extra holes.

The playoff almost ended on the first hole, where Reuter slipped his putt past the cup by mere centimeters. On the second hole, a par three, Reuter missed the green while Fitzpatrick hit it, yet Reuter’s chip and Fitzpatrick’s two-putt moved the playoff to a third hole.

It was there where Wake Forest finally prevailed. While Fitzpatrick hit a solid drive down the middle, Reuter found a tough line to the green near a grouping of trees. Reuter’s shot never turned, going straight into the forest near the green. Forced to drop, Reuter missed the green with his fourth shot, leaving an easy chip and putt for Fitzpatrick to win the championship.

“[There were] just shivers down my spine,” Fitzpatrick said. “Goosebumps. I couldn’t be happier to get it done for Wake Forest. It’s an incredible achievement and one I’ll never forget.” 

This is something we’ve worked towards for years now. The first three years we didn’t get it done, but knowing that at the end of this year, I’ll be leaving, and we’ve got an ACC championship is just an amazing thing.”