April 29, 2012
CORVALLIS, Ore. - Cal (359-365-348-356 - 1428, -12) won the first conference title in school history when the Golden Bears wrapped up the 2012 Pac-12 Championship on the second playoff hole Sunday at Trysting Tree Golf Club. The Bears started the day six shots off the pace of third-round leader Oregon (364-358-344-362 - 1428, -12) and remained five back with three holes to go before catching the Ducks and forcing a playoff when Brandon Hagy drained a 40-foot birdie putt on the 18th green.
"I hit it exactly how I wanted it to," Hagy said of his putt on the 18th hole. "It looked good from 10 feet out and it went in. It was a really good feeling."
"I'm so proud of the guys," head coach Steve Desimone said. "We knew we were down six heading into the round, but we never felt like we were out of it. We all knew what was at stake. It was nice not just to get a conference championship but also our fifth win of the season."
The victory of the 53rd annual conference championship that has been in existence since 1960 was Cal's fifth of the year as the Bears had previously set a school-record with four regular-season victories. Cal has also finished in the top five in each of its 12 events to this point, also for the first time in school history.
Hagy hit another putt from 25 feet on the deciding playoff hole and was the only player from either team to make birdie as. Cal's top five players needed just 19 strokes to finish the deciding par-four 16th, while Oregon's top five came in with a combined score of 24. The teams had tied, 21-21, on the par-four 18th to begin the playoff.
"I'm so pumped for all the guys that played so hard," Hagy said. "We just hung so tough, especially in the playoff. Everybody really grinded and made some clutch putts. It was a team effort. I'm just so happy for all the guys who have worked so hard all year. It feels really good, and that makes it feel even better."
Oregon played the final three holes in six-over par, while the Bears were one-over on the same three. The teams were playing in the same groups along with players from UCLA.
"We definitely thought it was possible," Hagy said about the team's come-from-behind win. "We've won four times [this season], and we've lost by one shot two other times ... I really did know that my teammates could pull it out today, and we proved it."
Hagy (73-73-66-68 - 280, -8) moved up a spot into a tie for fifth in the final standings with a four-under par round Sunday that followed Saturday's round in which he equaled the best round of his collegiate career with a season-low six-under par 66. Hagy had six birdies on Sunday, including three in a row to begin his round, all on par-fours. He had another birdie on the par-five fifth before the first of his two bogeys on the par-three seventh. After seven consecutive pars, he birdied the par-five 15th and bogeyed the par-three 17th before his dramatic putt on 18 for a birdie that forced the playoff.
Joël Stalter (71-70-72-70 - 283, -5) moved up two spots into a tie for ninth place with a two-under par tally that marked his fourth consecutive round of par or better at the event. He birdied both of the par-fives on the front nine (5, 9) and had 16 pars on the day without a bogey.
Max Homa (72-74-69-72 - 287, -1) inched up three spots into a tie for 13th after an even-par final round that included three birdies and three bogeys. Homa birdied the same two par-fives that Stalter birdied on the front nine and added another on the par-fourth 12th. His bogeys came at the par-four third and sixth holes, and the par-five 15th.
All three finished higher than in the previous conference championship they played. Homa and Stalter played the event previously in 2011, while Hagy redshirted last season and most recently played in 2010.
The other three Cal golfers in the lineup were playing the event for the first time.
Michael Kim (73-73-70-74 - 290, +2) slipped two spots into a tie for 19th place in his first conference championship appearance. The collegiate rookie's two-over par round Sunday started with a birdie on the first hole, but he was unable to muster another the rest of the day. Kim played the final 17 holes in three-over with 14 pars and a trio of bogeys on a pair of par-fives (9, 15) as well as the 18th hole.
Jeff Hamm (75-75-71-72 - 293, +5) had his third consecutive round count towards the team total with an even-par score on Sunday and moved up eight spots into a tie for 27th on the final player leader board. Hamm's two birdies came in back-to-back fashion on the fifth and sixth holes but were flanked by bogeys on the third and par-four eighth.
Keelan Kilpatrick (70-77-76-79 - 302, +14) was seven-over par on Sunday and finished tied for 53rd. Kilpatrick was only one-over par after nine holes but shot a six-over 42 on the back nine. His round included a double bogey on 13, seven bogeys (4, 8, 10, 11, 14, 16, 17) and a pair of birdies on the sixth and 18th holes.
"Everyone contributed in a huge way," Desimone said. "You don't win a conference championship without getting contributions from everybody. There's no team in the country that has outworked these guys. That's something we've been proud of all year, and we could not be more pleased or proud of any team we've ever been a part of. This is as good as it gets. It's very well deserved."
Cal will next play May 17-19 in one of six NCAA Regionals. The fields will be announced May 7.
Pac-12 Championship (hosted by Oregon State)
FINAL TEAM LEADER BOARD (after 3 of 3 days/4 of 4 rounds/72 of 72 holes)
FINAL PLAYER LEADER BOARD - INDIVIDUAL MEDALIST (after 3 of 3 days/4 of 4 rounds/72 of 72 holes)
FINAL PLAYER LEADER BOARD - CAL INDIVIDUALS (after 3 of 3 days/4 of 4 rounds/72 of 72 holes)