Illinois' Pieters wins NCAA golf title
Illinois sophomore Thomas Pieters shot a final-round 71 to win the men's NCAA Division I golf championship Thursday at Riviera Country Club.
Pieters finished at 5-under 208, three shots better than Julien Brun of TCU and Florida's Tyler McCumber, son of PGA Tour player, Mark McCumber.
Pieters began the day with a two-stroke lead and after a bogey on his sixth hole was tied with UCLA's Anton Arboleda. The Belgian made a birdie on the next hole and never relinquished the lead.
"It was a tough day," Pieters said. "My strategy was to make a lot of pars. I struggled a little and the last couple of holes I was nervous, but I managed to hang on."
Alabama went wire-to-wire in stroke play to grab the No. 1 seed going into Friday's match play. The Crimson Tide finished with a three-day total of 7-over par 859. UCLA finished second, two shots behind. Texas, San Diego State - California, Washington and Oregon earned the other spots.
Florida State and Kent State finished tied for the eighth and final spot. They will return Friday morning and all five team members will play sudden death with the best four scores counting.
Alabama will wait to see who it faces in the first round.
"They were a little nervous, but we told them the goal was to finish first," Alabama coach Jay Seawell said. "If you just try to qualify, you can fail. We wanted them to play like they have all week and for the most part they did."