Oct. 18, 2011
(FAIRFAX) - Cal (273-267-271 - 811, -41) and Oregon (270-268-273 - 811, -41) battled all the way to the final putt Tuesday before eventually sharing the team title at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational hosted by the Bears at the par-71, 6,718-yard Meadow Club. Individual medalist Eugene Wong (65-63-67 - 195, -18) hit a six-foot uphill birdie putt on the 18th hole to secure Oregon's piece of the title after second-place finisher Max Homa (66-66-68 - 200, -13) had drained a 25-footer for a birdie to guarantee Cal a piece of the crown.
"I knew Eugene wasn't going to miss," Homa said. "I stood over my putt and read it for a while. I had been in a position of having a must make putt before, so I wasn't that nervous. I felt confident when hit it and when it went in, my emotions kind of went flying. Golf isn't always a team sport, but I knew coming into the last hole that I could help my team win. You want to perform for your team and help them win."
"This was a tournament for the ages," head coach Steve Desimone said. "Yes, it was the regular season but it was three heavyweights [Cal, Oregon, San Diego State] going at it all day and no one that witnessed the day, especially the last two or three holes, will ever forget what they watched. It was tremendously dramatic. It just doesn't get much better than what we saw today."
The two teams hovered close to each other throughout the entire round that began with the Ducks holding a slim two-shot advantage after Monday's 36 holes of action. Cal closed the Ducks' slim advantage by firing the tournament's best score of the day for the second consecutive round.
"This was a fabulous day of golf and it's somewhat fitting it ended in a tie," Desimone said. "Both teams went back and forth all day."
Homa started the day four shots behind Wong and pulled to within two shots of the lead by getting to two-under for the day after six holes. Homa bogeyed seven to drop to three back. Wong returned the favor with a bogey on nine but birdied the par-11th hole to get back to three shots ahead. Both players birdied the 14th before Wong eagled the par-four 15th to take a five-shot lead that would be his final advantage.
"I have just taken a really good mental approach to golf and life," Homa said about his play this fall that has included top-eight finishes in all three of Cal's events. "I'm being as confident as I can and just understanding that anything is possible if you put your mind to it and work hard."
"Max's play continues to be phenomenal," Desimone added. "He just keeps getting better and better."
Kim (70-65-66 - 201, -12) had Cal's best round of the day with a five-under par effort that he achieved with seven birdies and two pars. Oregon's Rak Cho (67-68-66 - 201, -12) also was five-under par on the day and ended tied for third overall along with Kim.
"Michael came in as one of the top recruits in the country, and he has certainly lived up to that," Desimone said of the freshman. "He was clutch today and made a great birdie on the 18th hole that got us back to even."
Brandon Hagy (70-68-69 - 207, -6) moved up one spot into a tie for 17th with a steady round that included 14 pars and three birdies over the first 17 holes before a bogey on the 18th that was his first in 34 holes.
Stalter (72-68-68 - 208, -6) fired his second straight four-under par round and moved up six spots to his final position of tied for 20th. He was a huge part of the Bears' late run as he birdied each of the last four holes and five of the final seven after sitting at two-over for the day through the first 11 holes. His birdie on the 18th came from 45 feet.
"We needed every one of those birdies," Desimone offered.
Jeff Hamm (67-74-72 - 212, E) finished in a tie for 37th. Hamm had a tough three-over par front nine with bogeys on three, five and six for a three-over par 38. He came back in two-under par 34 on the back nine with birdies on the 10th and 13th holes.
Cal has now won at least a share of the Alister MacKenzie Invitational in each of the last three seasons, five of the past six campaigns and six times in the nine years of the tournament that began in 2002.
The Bears return to action with their final tournament of the fall Oct. 23-25 at the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational hosted by Texas Tech. Cal resumes play in the spring Jan. 30-31 at the Arizona Intercollegiate.
Alister MacKenzie Invitational (hosted by Cal)
FINAL TEAM LEADER BOARD (after 2 of 2 days/3 of 3 rounds/54 of 54 holes)
FINAL PLAYER LEADER BOARD - INDIVIDUAL MEDALIST (after 2 of 2 days/3 of 3 rounds/54 of 54 holes)
FINAL PLAYER LEADER BOARD - CAL INDIVIDUALS (after 2 of 2 days/3 of 3 rounds/54 of 54 holes)