April 28, 2010
TEMPE - Eric Mina became only the second player in the history of Cal men's golf to win the Pac-10 individual title when he came back from four shots off the lead Wednesday to capture medalist honors at the 2010 Pac-10 Men's Golf Championship. Mina finished the 72-hole tournament at 16-under par after firing a three-under round of 68 on the final 18 holes to defeat third-round leader Jesper Kennegard of Arizona State.
"This was the best tournament win of my life," said Mina, who is the first Cal men's golfer to capture the Pac-10 title since current PGA Tour professional Charlie Wi was victorious in 1995. "It's hard to describe how I feel right now. To win this as a Cal Bear and be on the same list as a guy like Charlie Wi is great."
"It is an incredible accomplishment and a great honor to be called Pac-10 champion," said Cal head coach Steve Desimone. "That's something that will live with Eric forever. There are a lot of great players who have won this event, such as Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, our own Charlie Wi and so many others. To be a part of that group is a very special achievement."
Mina captured the crown despite a triple bogey on his final hole Wednesday.
"That was the best triple bogey I ever shot," said Mina with a chuckle. "I didn't know what I needed [to win] until I got to the fairway [of my final hole]. When I heard Jesper had doubled [the 18th hole], I knew where I had to be and what I had to do. Getting birdies on three of the four holes prior set me up well."
"I don't know if I've ever been happier to see a seven in my life," added Desimone. "It's a seven he'll never forget. I'm not going to kid you; it was pretty hectic on that final hole. But when it was over there were some smiles."
Mina, who started his round on the 10th hole, had a total of eight birdies (13, 14, 15, 17, 3, 5, 7, 8), two bogeys (16, 18) and seven pars as he chased and then moved past Kennegard and Stanford's Joseph Bramlett, who started the day in second place behind Kennegard and two shots ahead of Mina but finished tied for fourth at 11-under after a three-over par 75. Mina's putter caught fire on his final nine holes as he made several huge putts, including a 45-foot birdie on the fifth hole and a 25-footer downhill for another birdie on the eighth.
Mina started his Pac-10 Championship performance with a six-under par 65 and a three-under 68 during his two rounds on Monday, before shooting a four-under 67 Tuesday. Mina's effort Wednesday marked his sixth consecutive round of 68 or better dating back to the final two rounds of the team's regular-season finale at the U.S. Intercollegiate.
"I hit really good shots all week at the flag and was able to pick and choose when to go after the hole," Mina said. "I had a good game plan and stuck to it. I just made a lot of birdies and put myself in good position all week."
"Today's performance mirrored what he did all three days and other than his tee shot on the ninth hole, it was about as close to a flawless round of golf that you could play," said Desimone. "He hit his irons at the flag sticks all day and he made a number of really clutch putts, the kind of putts you have to make if you're going to win."
Cal finished tied for sixth with an 11-under par team score of 1409 over the 72-hole event at the ASU Karsten Golf Course, moving up three spots from the ninth-place position the Bears held at the beginning of the day's action by shooting a 353 that tied for the second-best team mark Wednesday.
"We got off to a very good start today," said Desimone. "We had a little lull in the middle but then made a number of birdie putts over the last four or five holes and nobody made more than Eric Mina did."
Washington defended its 2009 title with a three-stroke victory over second-place Stanford as the Huskies erased a seven-stroke advantage the Cardinal held at the start of the day by shooting a two-under par round of 353 for a 72-hole total of 1383 (338-352-340-353, -37). The eight-over par round shot Wednesday by Stanford (330-345-348-363 - 1386, -34) was the third-worst of the entire tournament.
Michael Weaver (68-71-66-69 - 274, -10) finished the tournament tied for sixth to give Cal a pair of top-10 players in the event. Weaver started the day tied for 11th and bogeyed his first hole with a six on the par-five 10th, before three consecutive birdies (13-15) put him two-under. He finished with the same score, bogeying the 16th and fifth holes, before gaining those shots back with birdies on the back-to-back par-three sixth and seventh holes.
"Michael Weaver certainly played great today," said Desimone. "When you have two scorers like Michael and Eric Mina at the top of the lineup, you can play with anybody. That one-two punch is pretty dynamic and it certainly paid off for us today. Obviously, we would have liked to have won, but I'm very proud that we jumped up as many spots as we did."
Brandon Hagy (66-70-74-72 - 282, -2) shot a one-over par round of 72 on the final day and moved up two spots to tie for 20th. Chad Vivolo (45th, 74-75-71-71 - 291, +7), James Coré (51st-T, 74-73-74-73 - 294, +10) and Evan Derian (60th, 74-77-77-75 - 303, +15) also participated for the Golden Bears.
NCAA Regional play will take place at six sites May 20-22, with team selections announced on May 10. The 2010 NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championship hosted by the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga is scheduled for June 1-6 at the Honors Course in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
"When you accomplish something like this, it's usually even greater motivation to want more," said Desimone when asked about Mina and the team's future. "I think Eric will want to his defend his Pac-10 title next year, but I also think that competing for another national championship as a team is something that we're all looking forward to soon."
Pac-10 Championship (Hosted by Arizona State)
FINAL TEAM STANDINGS (after 3 of 3 days/4 of 4 rounds/72 of 72 holes)
TOURNAMENT CHAMPION (after 3 of 3 days/4 of 4 rounds/72 of 72 holes)
CAL INDIVIDUAL RESULTS (after 3 of 3 days/4 of 4 rounds/72 of 72 holes)