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Jun. 2—The grind continues.

That’s what it’s been for the Oklahoma men and that’s what it will be for one more day at the NCAA championship, taking place at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.

From the final round of regional play in Albuquerque, where the Sooners had to leap four spots even to reach the desert after three previous rounds positioned them ninth, to the tester putts made for par by Jonathan Brightwell at No. 18 and for birdie by Quade Cummins on No. 17 Tuesday evening, 18 holes, give or take, remain.

Tuesday, OU defeated Illinois in the morning and Arizona State in the afternoon, winning three of five matches in each dual, good enough to earn a date with Pepperdine this afternoon, the national championship at stake.

The same three players prevailed for OU in each duel.

Cummins, Brightwell and Logan McAllister each won twice. Of the three, only Brightwell had to play the 18th hole even once, defeating Illinois’ Giovanni Tadiotto 2 & 1 early and ASU’s David Puig one up late.

Had Oklahoma State defeated Pepperdine in the other semifinal, the title dual would be a Bedlam affair.

The Sooners, ranked No. 1, who placed fourth over 72 holes of stroke play that served to narrow the field to eight, are looking for the program’s third national championship to go with those claimed in 1989 at Oak Tree Country Club in Edmond and in 2017 at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Illinois.

“We have a chance to go do something phenomenal,” OU coach Ryan Hybl said.

The Sooners’ pursuit is not without a high-drama subplot.

Garett Reband entered regional play the No. 9 ranked collegiate golfer in America, yet fired off rounds of 76-75-75-80 at the national event, his score cast aside three times.

Against Illinois, Hybl subbed out Reband in favor of Patrick Welch, who made a splash at the 2019 national tournament, finishing 11th.

Welch struggled, losing to Illinois’ Adrien Dumont de Chassart 8 & 6, meaning the match ended when Welch was eight holes down with six to play. At that time, Welch was 7-over par.

Back in the lineup to face the Sun Devils, Reband also struggled, falling 5 & 4. Reband was 5-over par when the match ended.

Tasked with setting his lineup before departing the course, Hybl chose Reband to play today.

Freshman Ben Lorenz, who came off the bench for Welch in Albuquerque and has remained in the starting five since, fell 4 & 3 to Illinois’ Michael Feathers and 3 & 2 to ASU’s Ryggs Johnston.

Cummins, Brightwell and McAllister shouldered the load.

“That’s why we practice all year long,” said Cummins, a sixth-year senior out of Weatherford.

Cummins was on the roster as a redshirt freshman in the spring of 2017, but was not in the lineup that claimed the national championship.

ASU’s Cameron Sisk canned a 25-foot putt from off the green on the 16th hole to pull within one down to Cummins entering the drivable par 4 330-yard 17th.

Sisk chose an iron off the tee, pulling the ball into light rough. Cummins went with driver, reaching the green, leaving himself a 60-foot putt for eagle.

Sisk’s 100-yard wedge failed to check up, rolling past the pin, through fringe and into rough. Short-sided, his chip rolled five feet past the hole.

Though Cummins’ approach putt stopped seven feet short, he made the next one, denying Sisk a chance to halve the hole and continue the match.

A few minutes earlier, Brightwell had been fortunate his ball kicked right into rough rather than left into desert brush following a pulled tee shot off the cart path at No. 18. Both he and Puig found the sand on their approach to the mammoth 520-yard par 4 finishing hole.

Puig faced the tougher shot, blasted to eight feet and made the putt. Brightwell, from a back bunker, blasted to four feet and made it, denying Puig a chance in extra holes.

The national championship match begins at 3:35 p.m. Most of it will be broadcast on the Golf Channel.

“That’s why everybody comes to OU,” Cummins said, “to have that opportunity.”

The Sooners have it today.

Clay Horning

405 366-3526

Follow me @clayhorning