ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. (April 24, 2022) - Sophomore Cole Sherwood closed out Yuxin Lin on the 16th hole Saturday to win 3&2 and handed Vanderbilt its second straight SEC championship.
With the match tied at 2 wins apiece, Sherwood sank his second putt on the 16th green on the Seaside Course at the Sea Island Club on St. Simons Island, Georgia. A championship celebration ensued.
"We knew it was going to be a really tough final all day," Sherwood said. "Florida has a great team and I just trusted that my teammates were going to be there for me. Fortunate that my match ended up being the final point, but it just all comes back to having trust in your teammates and knowing they'll get the points as well."
Vandy, which became the first team to win consecutive SEC championships since Alabama won three in a row from 2013-15, had a 4-1 lead halfway through before Florida started to rally on the back nine. After 12 holes complete, that lead had shrank to 3-2.
A big-time birdie putt from Reid Davenport on 15 put him 1-up and kept the Dores ahead 3-2.
William Moll and Davenport notched the first Vanderbilt wins of the day as they both claimed 1-up victories over John Dubois and Tyler Wilkes, respectively, on the 18th hole. With Harrison Ott and Gordon Sargent having dropped their contests, it all came up to Sherwood who went into the 16th 3-up.
The Dores, their fans, friends and family all sprinted to the 16th green to watch Sherwood end it.
"Florida is a great team and they got great players and they're playing really good golf right now. We knew it was coming to one of those final two matches, there was no doubt about it," Vanderbilt head coach Scott Limbaugh said. "Everything matters. You look at William and the courage he showed to finish. Then Ried is up and then tied and then he comes back and gets the point. Even Gordon and Harrison having the resiliency to stay on the course? It matters. It was a 3-2 final and it took everything that we had."
Vanderbilt has now won six straight match play matches at the SEC Championships after going 3-0 in 2021 as the no. 6 seed. This year it was the No. 1 seed and had to survive a 3-2 victory over Mississippi State in the quarterfinals and then a 3-2 triumph over Louisiana State in the semifinals Saturday.
Vandy got at least one match play victory from all five Commodores.
"Man, what those boys did this week - they just kept responding," Limbaugh said. "That match against Mississippi State on Saturday really just kind of woke us up. Then I felt we looked better and got a little bit better each round."
The Commodores will now turn their attention to NCAA Regional play May 16-18 at one of six Regional sites: Bryan, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; New Haven, Connecticut; Palm Beach Gardens, Florida; Stockton, California; Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The NCAA Selection Show for Regional play is scheduled for 4 p.m. on May 4 live on the GOLF Channel.
Limbaugh said the team will take a break to recover from the grind of the SEC tournament and to prepare for final exams. Then it is on to the next challenge.
"We're going to enjoy it, but we got bigger things to do and I see a lot of areas we can grow in," the veteran coach said. "We are certainly not disappointed in where we are, we're SEC champions and it feels good, but if we're going to get what we ultimately think we can get, we got to get better."