PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. - Seniors Eugene Wong, Daniel Miernicki and Andrew Vijarro led No. 7 Oregon to a thrilling 3-2 victory over No. 5 UCLA in the NCAA Men's Golf national quarterfinals Friday at Riviera Country Club.
Oregon will square off against top-ranked Texas, a 5-0 victor over Washington, Saturday at 10:45 a.m. in the national semifinals. Alabama will face California in the other national semifinal. The Ducks are the only team remaining with prior experience in NCAA Tournament stroke play.
"I couldn't be more proud or more happy for my guys, especially the seniors," said Oregon head coach Casey Martin. "They've waited two years to get back here and came through for us once again.
"This meant a lot to them because I think they feel like still have some unfinished business."
On a sunny, but breezy day, the Ducks watched UCLA lead for much of the match, only to tie things up on the back nine and then have Miernicki and Wong close out individual matches on the 18th green to pull out the win.
The Bruins led 2-1 after the conclusion of the first three matches, with Vijarro being the only Duck to close things out early.
But Oregon's fortunes changed when Miernicki took charge of his match with UCLA's Pedro Figueiredo on the back nine. After a bogey on the 10th hole allowed Figueiredo to square the match, Miernicki posted back-to-back birdies on 11 and 12. He dropped a hole with a bogey on 14, but Miernicki yielded no further ground from there. The senior from Santee, Calif., pared the 18th, while Figueiredo bogeyed for a 2-up win.
"We've played against those guys so many times the last four years," said Miernicki. "It was great to be able to come back and beat UCLA today."
Wong came back from two down in his match with Anton Arboleda to square things up with a birdie on the 12th hole. The senior from North Vancouver, B.C., then gave a hole back with a bogey on 14, but roared ahead for good when Arboleda posted back-back-to-back bogeys on 15 and 16. Wong finished his round with four straight pars, including the clincher on 18 that led the Ducks on to the semifinals, to win 1-up.
"I think the past experience in match play really helped because I didn't worry about it when I got down early in the match," said Wong.
Earlier in the day, Vijarro never trailed in defeating Alex Kim 3 and 2. The senior from Bend, Ore., alternated between being all square and 1 up on Kim through the first nine holes. Kim them squared the match again for the last time with an impressive eagle on No. 10, but Vijarro pared the next six holes, while Kim bogeyed 11, 15 and 16, and Vijarro closed it out with a par putt on 16.
The Bruins's Pontus Widegren defeated Oregon's Robbie Ziegler 2 and 1. Ziegler, a junior from Canby, Ore., squared the match up three times, before both players settled for a par on 17 that locked up the match for Widegren.
Also for UCLA, top-ranked Patrick Cantlay got the best of the Duck freshman Jonathan Woo 5 and 3.
Oregon 3, UCLA 2
Pontus Widegren, UCLA, d. Robbie Ziegler, ORE, 2 and 1
Andrew Vijarro, ORE, d. Alex Kim, UCLA, 3 and 2
Daniel Miernicki, ORE, d. Pedro Figueiredo, UCLA, 2-up
Eugene Wong, ORE, d. Anton Arboleda, UCLA, 1-up
Patrick Cantlay, UCLA d. Jonathan Woo, ORE, 5 and 3