March 11, 2012
LAS VEGAS - Cal (286-287-300 - 873, +9) started the third and final round of the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters with a six-shot lead but was unable to hold off host UNLV (287-292-293 - 872, +8) down the stretch and had to settle for second place at the prestigious event that concluded Sunday at the par-72, 7,510 Southern Highlands Golf Club.
UNLV trailed by a shot heading into each of the players' turns at the par-five 18th hole but its four golfers that figured in their team score Sunday played the course's final hole one-under, while the four scoring Bears played the hole one-over. Cal had lost the lead it held all day briefly on the back nine but had moved back ahead on the 17th hole when Bears were even-par on the par-three compared to four-over for the Rebels.
"Our guys played hard and tough," associate head coach Walter Chun said. "It came down to the wire and UNLV took advantage of knowing the lay of the land on their home course."
Cal entered the event ranked No. 7 in the nation by Golfstat and No. 10 according to Golfweek. The Bears finished higher than nine of the 10 other Top 25 squads in 15-team field.
"I'm proud that we had the belief to compete with some of the best teams in the country," Chun said. "But we really didn't think about who was behind us. We were here on a mission to play the best we could and our goal was to win it."
Chun served as the team's head coach for the tournament while head coach Steve Desimone recovers from a health-related issue that prevented him from making the trip. Desimone is expected to be back with the team for its next event Mar. 18-20 at the Golf Coaches Association of America's Match Play Championship in Bradenton, Fla.
"I'm tremendously proud of our guys," Desimone said from his Bay Area home. "You can't ask for more from a group of great guys like this. There are continued great days ahead, no doubt about it."
Cal has already tied a regular-season school record with three team victories in 2011-12 and was looking to break the mark with another win. The Bears did extend their string of finishing at least tied for fourth to all eight of their matches this season. It was the second time Cal has been runner-up by a single stroke to a team on its home course this season. Cal finished second to host Arizona in January at the Arizona Intercollegiate. One of the Bears' three victories also came down to the wire and ended in a tie with Oregon for the team title at the Alister MacKeznie Invitational hosted by Cal last October.
"This disappointment will only add fuel to the fire," Chun said. "It's just indicative of how deep college golf is and how many good teams there are. At some point, we'll get the better end of the draw with the one shot losses and ties. We have a young team and they are trying to gain valuable experience that will help them in the Pac-12's, Regionals and NCAA's. It's all going to pay off, somehow and someway."
Max Homa (71-72-73 - 216, E) had both the team's highest finish overall with a tie for fourth and the best round by a Cal player on Sunday. His one-over par 73 was achieved in similar fashion to his first two rounds of the event. Homa would birdie two of the course's par-five holes (3, 13), while his three bogeys all came on par-fours (5, 11, 14). For the tournament, he finished with six birdies and six bogeys, while making par on his other 42 holes.
"It was really frustrating to lose by a single shot again," Homa said. "But we played great and it will make us stronger."
Brandon Hagy (72-71-75 - 218, +2) tied for eighth on the final individual leader board for the second-highest finish of his career. He started and closed his round Sunday strongly with birdies on the first, 16th and 18th holes - a pair of par-fours and a par-five. He needed the strong start and finish to offset six bogeys in between on the par-three second and five par-fours (5, 7, 10, 11, 14).
Keelan Kilpatrick (72-70-79 - 221, +5) dropped into a tie for 15th in the final standings after starting the day tied for fourth. Kilpatrick had shot up 11 spots with his two-under par round Saturday but fell back after a round Sunday that included eight bogeys (2, 3, 5, 11, 14, 15, 17, 18) and a single birdie on the par-four seventh hole.
Joël Stalter (71-74-76 - 221, +5) moved up two spots into a tie for 15th. Stalter's four-over round on Sunday included three consecutive bogeys on the first three holes of the back nine before his lone birdie of the day on 13. He also had bogeys on the fourth and 18th holes.
Michael Kim (74-76-76 - 226, +10) sneaked up 11 spots in the final standings into a tie for 33rd. Kim had three birdies in his round (4, 13, 16) to help offset a double bogey on three and five bogeys, including four in a row on holes 8-11 and another on 18.
Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters (hosted by UNLV)
Las Vegas, NV - Southern Highlands Golf Club (par-72, 7,510 yards)
FINAL TEAM LEADER BOARD (after 3 of 3 days/3 of 3 rounds/54 of 54 holes)
1. UNLV (287-292-293 - 872, +8)
2. Cal (286-287-300 - 873, +9)
3. UCLA (291-292-299 - 882, +18)
4. Texas A&M (288-292-305 - 885, +21)
5. Stanford (292-291-305 - 888, +24)
6. Texas (292-292-307 - 891, +27)
7. Duke (297-295-302 - 894, +30)
8. USC (298-291-306 - 895, +31)
T9. Oklahoma State (298-296-302 - 896, +32)
T9. Florida (293-295-308 - 896, +32)
T9. Alabama (292-295-309 - 896, +32)
12. TCU (294-292-318 - 904, +40)
13. Texas Tech (293-297-319 - 909, +45)
14. New Mexico State (306-305-332 - 943, +79)
15. Arizona State (310-309-325 - 944, +80)
FINAL PLAYER LEADER BOARD - INDIVIDUAL MEDALIST (after 3 of 3 days/3 of 3 rounds/54 of 54 holes)
1. Blake Biddle (UNLV) 71-72-69 - 212 (-4)
FINAL PLAYER LEADER BOARD - CAL INDIVIDUALS (after 3 of 3 days/3 of 3 rounds/54 of 54 holes)
T4. Max Homa 71-72-73 - 216 (E)
T8. Brandon Hagy 72-71-75 - 218 (+2)
T15. Keelan Kilpatrick 72-70-79 - 221 (+5)
T15. Joël Stalter 71-74-76 - 221 (+5)
T33. Michael Kim 74-76-76 - 226 (+10)