Cal Tops Oregon State to Take Third at Del Walker
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  02/28/2012

Feb. 28, 2012

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LONG BEACH, Calif. - Cal wrapped up the second match play event in school history with a 4-1 victory over Oregon State in a third-place match on Tuesday at the Del Walker Match Play Championship. Cal's victory over the Beavers followed a split on Monday when the Bears defeated Oregon, 3-1-1, in their morning quarterfinal before falling to Washington, 4-1, in an afternoon semifinal. The two-day event was hosted by Long Beach State at the par-70, 6,633-yard Virginia Country Club.

"Our performance over the last two days continues to show how good this team is," head coach Steve Desimone said. "Overall, the quality of play was very good and it was a nice run."

Each of Cal's top four players in the lineup - Max Homa, Brandon Hagy, Pace Johnson and Keelan Kilpatrick - won their individual matches Tuesday against their Oregon State counterparts.

Homa birdied the 17th hole to clinch his 2 & 1 victory against Alex Moore, the individual medalist of the 2011 Pac-10 Championship. Homa got off to a strong start by winning the first four holes, capturing the first and fourth with birdies, while taking advantage of bogeys by Moore on the second and third. Moore charged back to within a single hole by winning the sixth, seventh and eighth holes in succession. Homa double bogeyed six to start the stretch and bogeyed seven, before Moore won the eighth with a birdie of his own. Homa moved the lead back to two holes by winning the 11th on a birdie but a Moore birdie on 16 cut his deficit to a single hole before Homa's match-clinching birdie on 17.

Hagy won the first hole with a birdie and never trailed in his 4 & 3 victory over Nick Sherwood. The match briefly stood at all square after Sherwood birdied the third hole to pull even. But Hagy would win the next two holes on a birdie and a Sherwood bogey. The match would never get any closer as Hagy also won the seventh, ninth, 13th and 14th holes, with Sherwood taking the eighth and 12th to pull within two twice more.

"Brandon had to move up in the lineup this week and play in the No. 2 spot in the lineup where he would take on some real heavyweights," Desimone said. "He showed himself to be a real competitor. He did a great job and what he did in this type of competition was extremely valuable to the team."

Johnson went back and forth with his opponent Nick Chianello in the number three spot in the lineup before eventually prevailing, 3 & 1. Johnson won the first hole with a birdie to take an early lead but gave it up with a bogey on three. Chianello moved ahead when Johnson bogeyed five but the match went back to all square when Chianello bogeyed six. Chianello gained the lead again when Johnson double bogeyed seven but bogeyed eight as the match returned to all square. The players remained even until Johnson seized control by taking three straight holes when he birdied 12, followed by a Chianello bogey on 13, and another Johnson birdie on 14. Chianello kept the match alive by winning the 16th hole with a birdie before Johnson wrapped it up with his own birdie to win 17.

Kilpatrick lost the first hole in his 3 & 2 victory over Casey King after his opponent's first-hole birdie but would never trail again. Kilpatrick took advantage of a King bogey on two to even the match and went ahead for good with his own birdie on seven. He extended his lead to two holes when King bogeyed 10 but found it back at one after King came up with a birdie on 11. Kilpatrick's final margin came after he won 13 and 15 on two more King bogeys.

Jeff Hamm was the only Cal player not victorious on Tuesday, falling 2 & 1 to Jonnie Motomochi. Hamm lost the first hole with a bogey and would never lead. A Motomochi birdie on three extended his advantage to two holes but Hamm came right back with a birdie on four to get within one. Motomochi then won the next two holes with a birdie on five and a Hamm bogey on six to go three up. Hamm cut it back to a two-hole deficit with a birdie on seven but never got any closer. Motomochi captured the 10th and 15th holes on Hamm's bogey and double bogey, respectively. Hamm twice got back within two holes after birdies on the 14th and 16th.

Kilpatrick was the only Cal player to go unbeaten in the two-day event, winning matches against his Washington and Oregon State opponents, while being all square versus Oregon.

"It probably gave me some advantage to have the experience I do in match play," said Kilpatrick, who grew up often playing the format in his native New Zealand. "It's unfamiliar territory to a lot of college golfers, so that probably helped me a bit."

Homa and Hagy were both 2-1 in their three tournament matches, winning against Oregon and Oregon State, while falling to Washington. Johnson and Hamm were 1-2. Johnson fell to Oregon and Washington before his victory against Oregon State. Hamm was a winner against Oregon before falling to Washington and Oregon State.

Cal played without two of its top four players in Michael Kim and Joël Stalter, who had both played in each of the team's previous six events in 2011-12. Both Hamm and Kilpatrick were playing with the team for only the second time this season.

"We felt all along that we had seven players who were clearly ready to play," Desimone said. "That was certainly validated over the last couple of days. These guys did a great job. We know going forward we've got seven guys that have proven they can be very competitive at this level, and if we need them we'll use them. Gaining experience for these guys was really good. This was a good time to get these guys in competition."

UCLA won the eight-team event as the only squad to win all three of its matches, including a 3-2 victory over Washington in the finals on Tuesday. After the third and fourth-place finishes by Cal and Oregon State, Oregon was fifth, USC sixth, UC Davis seventh and Long Beach State eighth.

The third-place finish kept Cal's string of top five finishes intact as the Bears have placed in the top five during each of their seven tournaments in 2011-12, including a school-record-tying three team victories.

Cal will next take its streak to the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters in a return to stroke play March 9-11. The prestigious event hosted by UNLV at the Southern Highlands Golf Club annually showcases one of the top regular-season fields in collegiate golf.