Team Effort Helped Catapult USC To NCAA Championships

May 23, 2005

The USC men's golf team earned the right to play at the NCAA Championships next week by winning a three-team playoff at the NCAA West Region on Saturday (May 21) in a display of play that required concentration, fortitude and patience.

Lots and lots of patience.

Ten teams advanced from each of the West, Central and East Regions. The West Region was especially tight, with the fourth through 12th-placed teams all within seven strokes of each other by the end of regulation.

USC fought a tough Stanford Golf Course to finish tied for 10th, heading to the clubhouse at about 1:45 p.m. But then the Trojans had to wait - along with Pepperdine and South Carolina - for the rest of the field to finish before they could play the playoff.

Finally, at 7 p.m., the playoff commenced with five players from each team playing Holes 8 through 12. As in regulation, each team would discard the low score.

Junior Taylor Wood made par on Hole 11 and then junior Bradley Shaw made an 8-foot putt on Hole 9, also for par. Senior Ben Hayes made bogey on Hole 10 but sophomore Joshua Wooding birdied the par-3 Hole 8.

With walkie-talkies bouncing messages and updates back-and-forth on the course, the Trojans found out they could win if junior Tyler Ley could make par on Hole 12.

Ley, who fired a team-best 68 in regulation earlier in the day, came through, leaving the Trojans at a combined 1-under to send the Trojans into a course-wide celebration. Pepperdine finished at par while South Carolina was 1-over.

'We were on pins and needles the whole day, but everyone contributed and came through,' Director of Golf Kurt Schuette said. 'We rallied on the back 9 and did some great things down the stretch.

'This team's fight and chemistry was critical in the situation. Three of the guys went through it last year at the NCAA Championships to make the final cut, so we felt we had an advantage on the other teams. We felt we were the better team and we went out and proved it.'

Among the strong play during the final nine holes included Shaw carding birdies on two of the final three holes, Ley going 1-under (including a 25-foot birdie put on 9), Wood shooting par and Hayes battling some inconsistency to birdie three times, including on a tough Hole 6.

And then there was Wooding, who made bogeys on his final two holes in regulation only to come through with the key birdie in the playoff.

'It was fun downs stretch and we did some great things,' Schuette said. 'It was a team effort and we fought like true Trojans. The experience will help us appreciate the opportunity at the NCAA Championships and will make us that much more resilient.'

The NCAA Championships will be held June 1-4 at the Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings, Md.

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