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Koivun, Wallin Showdown Foreshadows Championship Finale

Florida State gathers in front of the scoreboard for a sweet moment.

Tears were shed today. Tears of joy, tears of heartbreak. Today culminated in an emotional showdown among both matches.

To start, all eyes were on Georgia Tech’s Christo Lamprecht and Florida State’s Luke Clanton. With Lamprecht’s sudden return from his back injury and Clanton’s standout performance not just here at the NCAA Championship, but also throughout his season, everyone thought the final point would come down to them.

Christo Lambrecht subbed back into the NCAA Semifinals today for Georgia Tech.
Christo Lambrecht subbed back into the NCAA Semifinals today for Georgia Tech. Kelly Okun, Fairway to Green.

With Clanton ultimately winning his match, the finale really came down to a 19-hole match between Georgia Tech’s Kale Fontenot and Florida State’s Tyler Weaver. With a lip-out on the last hole, Georgia Tech ended their impressive run this week.

Florida State coach congratulates players as they advance to the Finals.
Florida State coach congratulates players as they advance to the Finals. Kelly Okun, Fairway to Green.

Then the real excitement began, though we didn’t know that at the time. Auburn and Ohio State were alternating points until it came down to Jackson Koivun – the newly crowned Haskins Award winner – and Adam Wallin, who had been hovering around the top of the individual leaderboard all week.

Ohio State loves Wallin's shot on the first playoff hole.
Ohio State loves Wallin’s shot on the first extra hole. Kelly Okun, Fairway to Green.

Koivun entered the 17th hole 2 up but lost the hole. He then lost 18, causing a playoff. The pair proceeded to the 16th hole again, where they both hit the green. Though they had 15-25-foot putts, they both barely slid over the side of the hole and moved onto the next one.

Wallin hits out of the fairway bunker on the second extrahole.
Wallin hits out of the fairway bunker on the second extra hole. Kelly Okun, Fairway to Green.

On the 17th hole, Koivun ended up in the left rough off the tee and Wallin in the fairway bunker on the right. Koivun hit a flyer that went over the green and was luckily stopped by the TV tower at the back of the green; he took relief and was able to save par. Wallin hit short of the green, hit a fantastic chip up and made the putt for par as well.

Ohio State and Auburn teams await the results of the showdown.
Ohio State and Auburn teams await the results of the showdown. Kelly Okun, Fairway to Green.

As the pair approached 18, daylight was quickly disappearing; it was unlikely they’d be able to play a fourth extra hole. Both men hit tee shots within 20 feet of each other in the fairway. Wallin hit first and flew the creek for a 40-yard chip shot. Koivun hit the green, but it bounced off into the right greenside bunker. It all came down to who could birdie this hole.

Jackson Koivun's sand shot to set him up for birdie and the ultimate win.
Jackson Koivun’s sand shot to set him up for birdie and the ultimate match win. Kelly Okun, Fairway to Green.

Wallin’s chip had some heat on it and stayed at the back of the green on the fringe. His putt was close, but no cigar. Koivun hit his sand shot to four feet and made the birdie, much to the delight of his team, coaches and families.

Jackson Koivun smiles with teammates after winning his match to advance Auburn to the championship.
Jackson Koivun smiles with teammates after winning his match to advance Auburn to the championship. Kelly Okun, Fairway to Green.

The entourage emotionally ran down to the green to congratulate Koivun. One parent could be heard saying, “Please don’t do this to us again tomorrow!”

She wasn’t wrong. The showdown in the last match truly felt like a championship win. It was good preparation for the Auburn team tomorrow.

Florida State and Auburn will both be going for their first national title tomorrow, so they will undoubtedly be feeling the pressure. History was made with them (and Georgia Tech and Ohio State) defeating all the top-seeded teams and history will be made tomorrow.

Tune in to Fairway to Green’s Instagram (@fairwaytogreen) for real-time updates as the NCAA crowns a new victor.

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