May 7, 2012
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. - Steve Desimone was named the Pac-12 Men's Golf Coach of the Year in a vote of the conference coaches announced Monday. Desimone led Cal to its first-ever conference championship with the Golden Bears winning the Pac-12 title in a playoff and a current season-high No. 2 national ranking in the latest Golfstat poll. The Pac-12 victory was one of a school-record five team tournament titles for the Golden Bears this season. Cal has also finished in the top five during each of its first 12 events for the first time in school history.
"I'm honored to win this award, especially in a vote of my peers," Desimone said. "It feels great, but the bottom line is it runs directly to the players. It's been a collaborative process all along with the players, [associate head coach] Walter [Chun] and me. We've all worked together to get to where we are. They played great all year. All I can do is say thanks to them and to Walter because we've been a team in every which way, and this is just one more way."
Now in his 33rd season as Cal's head coach, Desimone has led a recent rejuvenation of a program that won its lone national title in 2004. After not qualifying for the final NCAA Championship field for five seasons after the title, Cal returned in 2009-10 and finished 23rd at the annual event before moving up to a tie for 19th last year. With a Pac-12 title in hand this season, Cal will extend its string of consecutive NCAA Regional appearances to six in a row.
A member of the 2010 Golf Coaches Association of America Hall of Fame induction class, Desimone was Golfweek's 2003-04 College Coach of the Year and was presented with the 2004 Grand Master of the Year award by the Northern California Golf Association after the team's 2004 national title. He has directed Cal to 16 NCAA Regionals (1990, '93, '95, '97, '98, '99, 2000, '01, '02, '03, '04, '07, '08, '09, '10, '11) and seven NCAA Championship events (1995, '98, '99, 2000, '04, '10, '11), and was voted the Pac-10 Co-Coach of the Year in 1987. Desimone took over the head coaching position at Cal in the fall of 1979 and grew the Bears from a club team into one of the elite varsity golf programs in the country. He was a member of the basketball team as an undergraduate at Cal before receiving his bachelor's degree in 1970.
Sophomore Brandon Hagy, junior Max Homa and freshman Michael Kim were each named second-team All-Pac-12 on Monday, while Joël Stalter picked up honorable mention honors. The second-team all-conference trio also shared Cal's team MVP honors this year, while Stalter was the squad's Most Improved Player.
"Our top four guys have clearly established themselves as national players," Desimone said of the team's four all-conference honorees. "If you receive all-conference honors in this conference then you must really be doing something right and playing some great golf. Obviously, all four of these guys have."
Hagy, who along with Homa is one of only two Cal players to have participated in all of the team's 12 events this season, has a 71.7 average in 31 stroke-play rounds this season and is a team-best 6-1 in match play. He played a huge role in Cal's win at the Pac-12 Championship. Hagy made a 40-foot birdie putt on the 18th green of the fourth and final round to force a playoff with Oregon and then the only player from either team to birdie the deciding second playoff hole when he sank a 25-foot putt that clinched the Pac-12 crown. He tied for fifth on the final player leader board at the Pac-12's. In addition to his performance at the Pac-12's, Hagy was named the Pac-12 Men's Golfer of the Month for April of 2012, starting the month with the best finish of his career at the ASU Thunderbird Invitational when he tied for third. Hagy posted four top-eight finishes in six spring events and has been in the top-20 in a team-high nine of 10 stroke-play events. He is also one of only three Cal nominees for men's at-large CoSIDA Academic All-America® recognition as a Business Administration major with a 3.761 cumulative GPA.
Homa has a team-low 71.4 stroke average and is 5-2 in match-play competition. He has had Cal's top score in a team-high five stroke-play events and is the team's top-ranked player with a No. 30 national ranking according to Golfstat. Homa has posted co-team highs with four top-five and five top-10 finishes, including a pair of second-place showings at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational and the John A. Burns Intercollegiate. He has been in the top 20 a total of seven times. Homa was named the Pac-12 Men's Golfer of the Month for February of 2012 based on his performances at the John A. Burns Intercollegiate and the Del Walker Match Play Championship, where he was 3-1 as the team's top player. His season has included a dramatic 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th green of the final round of the Alister MacKenzie Invitational that gave the Bears a share of the team title with Oregon.
Kim has posted a 71.6 stroke average over 10 stroke-play events and 31 rounds in his rookie collegiate season. He has finished in the top five three times, including a season-best tie for third at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational. Kim has also been in the top 10 on four occasions and the top 20 seven times.
Stalter has matched Homa's co-team highs with four top-five finishes and five top-10 outings. His best showing came when he tied for second at the season-opening Wolverine Intercollegiate, with his performance including a second-round eight-under par 63 that tied the course record and is the lowest round by a Cal player this season. Stalter has a 72.1 stroke average in 10 stroke-play events and 31 rounds.
Cal will find out where it plays next during the NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championship selection show scheduled for Monday at 6 p.m. PT. Six NCAA Regionals will take place May 17-19, with the six possible sites Ann Arbor, Mich. (University of Michigan Golf Course); Athens, Ga. (University of Georgia Golf Course); Bowling Green, Ky. (The Club at Old Stone); Greensboro, N.C. (Forest Oaks Country Club); Norman, Okla. (Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club); and Stanford, Calif. (Stanford University Golf Course).
The NCAA Championship will is scheduled for May 29 - June 3 at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. The top five teams from each of the six regionals will advance to the national championship field. The 30 teams will play 54 holes of stroke play, with the top eight advancing to match play over the final three days of the event.