May 31, 2012
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. - Cal (295-289-287 - 871, +19) has made match play at the NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championship for the first time in school history after tying for fourth place in the stroke play portion of the event that concluded Thursday at The Riviera Country Club. Cal's three-over par round was its best of the tournament and tied for the fifth best of the day.
"It's been a season of firsts and it's been a progression," head coach Steve Desimone said. "Six wins, a conference championship, a regional championship and now we're headed to NCAA match play tomorrow. I'm really proud of the way the guys have played. There was no give at any time."
Cal did win its lone NCAA Championship in 2004 and finished sixth in 1995 before match play was reintroduced in to determine the sport's national champion in 2009. Cal will continue its quest for a second NCAA title by playing fellow fourth-place stroke play finisher San Diego State (292-295-284 - 871, +19) in the second of four match play quarterfinals to be contested Friday. The Cal-San Diego State match begins at 10:45 a.m. PT.
Cal's depth played a huge role in the team's success over 54 holes of stroke play on the par-71, 7,292-yard course. On Thursday, quality play throughout the team allowed the Bears to discard a round of four-over par 75 by the top player in the lineup Brandon Hagy.
"We've had a great year and you only have a great year if you have five, six or seven guys that can play, and these guys have shown that all year," Desimone said. "We have quality of depth throughout the lineup."
Max Homa (76-70-68 - 214, +1) led the Bears for the second consecutive day with a three-under par round of 68 that was the third-best of the day and his best of the tournament. Homa had the second-best individual finish ever by a Cal golfer at the NCAA Championship, tying for ninth overall to rank second only to the eighth-place tie Michael Weaver recorded in 2011. Homa moved up 89 spots over the final two days after an opening-round five-over par 76 left him tied for 98th after 18 holes.
"It was a long morning [waiting to play] but once we got out here and the round got going it all settled in," Homa said. "I'm so proud of everybody and really honored to be on this team."
Hagy (71-73-75 - 219, +6) was the next Cal player on the leader board in a tie for 45th despite his four-over par final round on Thursday.
Johnson has played a key role for the Bears at the tournament as the No. 5 player in the lineup, including his second round of one-over par 72 at the event on Thursday. Johnson, who also had an opening-round 72, would jump 23 spots up the leader board on the final day.
"We came into this tournament with no doubts," Johnson said. "We were prepared for this and we're looking to play until Sunday. It was a test of wills today and the whole team gave it their all."
The Bears also used the round shot by Joël Stalter (78-73-74 - 225, +12) in their team score for the second consecutive day. Stalter tied for 89th in the final standings.
Illinois' Thomas Pieters (69-68-71 - 208, -5) won the individual medalist honors declared at the end of stroke play by three shots over Julien Brun of TCU (72-72-67 - 211, -2) and Tyler McCumber of Florida (68-71-72 - 211, -2).
The first of four quarterfinal matches between No. 1 seed Alabama and the winner of an 8 a.m. Friday morning playoff between Kent State and Florida State to determine the No. 8 seed is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. PT. No. 2 UCLA and No. 7 Oregon are scheduled to square off at 11:30 p.m. following the Cal-San Diego State title. The final match of the day between No. 3 Texas and No. 6 Washington is slated to start at 12:15 p.m.
Friday's action from the 10th, 14th and 18th holes will be webcast live at NCAA.com.
NCAA Championship (hosted by USC)
FINAL STROKE PLAY TEAM LEADER BOARD
FINAL STROKE PLAY INDIVIDUAL MEDALIST
FINAL STROKE PLAY PLAYER LEADER BOARD - CAL INDIVIDUALS