May 21, 2011
(TUCSON) -Cal is going to the NCAA Championship for the second straight year and the seventh time in school history after another strong performance Saturday in the third and final round of the NCAA Arizona Regional. The Golden Bears finished third overall after firing their best round of the three-day event at the par-71, 7,199-yard Omni Tucson National Golf Resort, shooting a six-under par 278 that was the third best of the day. Cal (286-279-278 - 843, -9) finished with a nine-under par score over 54 holes.
"Any time you advance to an NCAA Championship from the Regional it really validates a great year," said head coach Steve Desimone. "I am so proud of these guys. They worked so hard and are as deserving as any team we've ever had."
San Diego State (278-278-277 - 833, -19) led the event from wire-to-wire and joined by Texas A&M (281-282-277 - 840), Cal, Pepperdine (284-280-280 - 844, -8) and host Arizona (281-280-283 - 844, -8) as the five teams qualifying for the NCAA's. The host Wildcats made a strong run after a tough start to their final round to edge sixth-place Washington (279-286-280 - 845, -7) by a single stroke and end the Huskies' campaign.
UC Davis' Matt Hansen (64-72-68 - 204, -9) was the individual medalist and will join the five qualifying teams at the NCAA Championship as the top individual not from one of those teams.
The Bears began the day tied for fifth place and moved up and down the leader board as high as second and as low as seventh settling in third, matching their finish a year ago at the 2010 NCAA San Diego Regional. Cal had moved up four spots into the fifth-place tie with a second round of 279 on Friday that was the second-best of the day. The Bears were in ninth after an opening-round four-over par 286.
"We didn't really talk about this but we knew after the first round we were in ninth place," said Desimone. "It wasn't so much that we had so many strokes to make up, it was that we had to pass a lot of teams so there wasn't a large margin for error. The round yesterday got us back in it and then we did what we had to do today."
"Fortunately we got off to a great start today and came back really strong after a little lag in the middle," said Desimone. "The guys hit some great shots and came up with some really clutch putts."
Freshman Ben An (73-69-66 - 208) led the Bears' effort by tying for fourth place in his first collegiate postseason event. An's five-under par 66 on Saturday was the best score of the day and tied for the third-best round of the tournament. An jumped 34 spots over the final 36 holes after an opening-round 73, including 15 spots on Saturday after starting the day tied for 19th.
An's final round was powered by a pair of eagles on the par-five eighth and 10th holes. He also had three birdies, picking up single strokes on the back-to-back par-four 13th and 14th holes, after having earlier made birdie on the par-three fourth. Ironically, his round started with a bogey on the par-four first hole and he had another on the par-four sixth.
"Ben came up with eagles when he chipped in on eight and rolled a putt in from off the green on 10, but like everybody else he made a bunch of clutch putts to save par coming down the stretch," said Desimone.
"I'm really happy," said An. "I didn't start well, but I knew we all had to play well to get through today. I was just grinding it out. I got some lucky bounces that went in. Overall, I played well, and I'm glad I played well and helped the team."
Stephen Hale (72-69-70 - 211, -2) tied for 14th place on after wrapping up his tournament with a second consecutive sub-par round that consisted of four birdies and three bogeys for a one-under par 70. He had one of each on the front nine, making bogey on the par-four third only to come back immediately with a birdie on the par-three fourth. He started the back nine with a birdie on the par-five 10th hole but gave the shot back right away with a bogey on the par-four 11th. He quickly got to two-under par for the day and four-under for the tournament with birdies on the par-four 13th and par-five 15th, before giving one stroke back with a bogey on the par-four 18th.
Max Homa (73-69-70 - 212, -1) was two spots back of Hale in a tie for 16th place. His scores in the final two rounds mirrored Hale's as he also shot his second straight sub-par round Saturday with a one-under par 70. He had both one birdie and one bogey less than Hale, picking up his trio of birdies on the par-three fourth, par-five 10th and par-four 11th holes. His bogeys came in back-to-back fashion on the fifth and sixth holes, both par-four.
Michael Weaver (70-72-72 - 214, +1) posted his second consecutive round of one-over par round of 72 and finished in a tie for 25th. He birdied the par-three fourth, as well as the par-five 10th and 15th holes. Three of his bogeys came on par-four holes (5, 6, 14), while he also bogeyed the par-three 12th.
Eric Mina (71-74-72 - 217, +4) also had a one-over par round of 72 on Saturday and finished in a tie for 42nd overall. Mina had a strong start Saturday with a two-under par 33 on his front nine, making birdie on the par-four first and fifth holes. His back nine was more difficult as he started with a bogey on the par-five 10th, doubled the par-four 13th and bogeyed the par-three 17th, before coming up with a birdie on the par-four 18th.
The No. 19-ranked Bears will continue their 2010-11 campaign at the NCAA Championship hosted by Oklahoma State May 31 - June 5 at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Okla. The 30-team NCAA Championship field will play 54 holes of stroke play over the first three days of the event, with the top eight squads moving on to match play for the final three days.
"It's kind of nice to get back to the NCAA's," said Hale, who along with Homa, Mina and Weaver will be making his second appearance. "I'm just relieved we're going back. We played well today, and I'm really happy about the way we played and the way we hung in there."
NCAA Arizona Regional (hosted by NCAA and Arizona)
Tucson, AZ - Omni Tucson National Golf Resort (par-71, 7,199 yards)
FINAL TEAM LEADER BOARD (after 3 of 3 days/3 of 3 rounds/54 of 54 holes)
*1. San Diego State (278-278-277 - 833, -19)
*2. Texas A&M (281-282-277 - 840, -12)
*3. Cal (286-279-278 - 843, -9)
*T4. Pepperdine (284-280-280 - 844, -8)
*T4. Arizona (281-280-283 - 844, -8)
6. Washington (279-286-280 - 845, -7)
7. Oregon State (284-285-280 - 849, -3)
8. UC Davis (287-287-279 - 853, +1)
9. Texas Tech (283-284-291 - 858, +6)
10. Liberty (280-292-288 - 860, +8)
11. Purdue (290-301-282 - 873, +21)
12. Texas-Arlington (294-288-294 - 876, +24)
13. Army (302-290-290 - 882, +30)
14. Loyola-Maryland (310-298-295 - 803, +51)
*Qualified for NCAA Championship
FINAL PLAYER LEADER BOARD - INDIVIDUAL MEDALIST (after 3 of 3 days/3 of 3 rounds/54 of 54 holes)
1. Matt Hansen (UC Davis) 64-72-68 - 204 (-9)
*Qualified for NCAA Championship
PLAYER LEADER BOARD - CAL INDIVIDUALS (after 3 of 3 days/3 of 3 rounds/54 of 54 holes)
T4. Ben An 73-69-66 - 208 (-5)
T14. Stephen Hale 72-69-70 - 211 (-2)
T16. Max Homa 73-69-70 - 212 (-1)
T25. Michael Weaver 70-72-72 - 214 (+1)
T42. Eric Mina 71-74-72 - 217 (+5)