UCLA Leads NCAA West Regional After First Round
May 17, 2007
Second-seeded UCLA, ranked eighth by Golfweek, seventh by Golf World and fourth by Golfstat, leads the field after the first day of the 27-team NCAA West Regional held at the ASU Karsten Golf Course (par 72/7,057 yards) with a 20-under 268. UCLA sophomore Erik Flores leads tournament with an 8-under 64. The 2006 second-team All-American posted six birdies and one eagle, the par-5 527-yard 14th hole.
The Bruins already have won five tournaments on the year, with victories at the Husky Invitational, Pac-10/Big Ten Challenge, Cougar Invitational, CS Bakersfield Invitational and the Southern Highlands Collegiate.
'It was a good day for us, we got off to a good start when Lucas (Lee) eagled the first hole,' said fifth-year UCLA head coach O.D. Vincent. 'Erik (Flores) played the kind of golf we're used to seeing him play. The difference today was that we got off to a good start and we were able to keep it going. Tomorrow we tee off earlier, and we start on No. 10. Typically the back nine doesn't yield the kind of scores that the front nine does. We'll just have to be patient and take it one shot at a time.'
The top 10 teams and top two individuals not on those teams will advance to the 2007 NCAA Championships held in Williamsburg, Va., May 30-June 2 at Golden Horseshoe Golf Club (hosted by Virginia Commonwealth).
South Carolina, seeded 11th and ranked No. 33 by Golfweek and No. 36 by Golfstat, shot a 15-under 273 as three players shot 4-under 68 and another fired a 69. The Gamecocks best NCAA championship finish was eighth in 1988.
Host Arizona State, a five-time champion of the West Regional and national champion in 1990 and 1996, shot a 13-under 275 and is tied for third with New Mexico. Sophomore All-American Benjamin Alvarado Holley shot a 5-under 67 (tied for seventh) and is now 27-under par in his past 11 rounds.
'We would have liked to have finished stronger but we know our golf course gets tough at the end, especially with the wind picking up,' said Sun Devil head coach Randy Lein. 'Ben really played well and has been playing that way for the past three tournaments. There were a lot of low scores and we need to get out early Friday and continue that trend.'
ASU senior All-American Niklas Lemke shot a 1-under 71. Lemke, the 2007 National Invitational Tournament medalist (in Tucson on April 2-3) and 2006 Illini Invitational medalist (from the fall) has eight top-five finishes in 10 events on the year. Freshmen Tristan Bierenbroodspot also shot a 1-under 71 and had five birdies. He was at 5-under entering the final three holes but strong winds came in and he went 4-over down the stretch.
'We shot a good score and Niklas was at 1-under, so that is a good sign for our team,' said Lein.
New Mexico finished at 13-under 275 and also tied for third.
'We couldn't really think of a better way to start, that's for sure,' said head coach Glen Millican. 'Everybody played solid. Three guys made a few more putts than the other two but we hung in there and posted our best score of the year. It was just another great round by Charlie (Beljan). I didn't see a lot of his round but he played well. He felt like he gave away a couple of opportunities in the middle of the round where he could have made a few more birdies.'
'I bogeyed No. 1 to start off the day, but I knew there were a million birdie holes out here today,' said Charlie Beljan. 'I just had to stay patient. I got on a little run early when I made four birdies in a row. I hit all of them within 5-6 feet and made some putts. I continued to play well despite missing a few more opportunities. I was able to capitalize on some more later in the round to go on anther stretch of four birdies in a row. I don't know that there is one particular thing I like about this course. It is my hometown and I have my family and a few friends here so I am real comfortable. I am just teeing it up trying to have fun rather than trying to post a number.'
Stanford, the West Regional top seed and second-ranked team in the nation by the three major polls, shot an 11-under 277 and is tied for sixth with 2007 Pac-10 champion USC. Stanford has six wins in 11 tournaments on the year. The Cardinal is a seven-time NCAA champion with last coming in 1994, while USC is ranked fifth by Golfweek and is the fourth seed.
No. 15 seed Pepperdine also shot an 11-under 277 and is tied for fifth with USC and Stanford. Head coach John Geiberger Waves are making their 15th NCAA Regional appearance and their ninth straight. The Waves, ranked No. 41 by Golfweek, won the 2007 West Coast Conference title and won the 1997 national championship. Carl Smith IV is leading the Waves at 6-under 66 and is tied for third.
Fifth-seeded and 2007 Atlantic Sun Conference champion East Tennessee State shot 10-under 278 and is eighth.
California, ranked 54th by Golfweek and seeded 21st, shot an 8-under led by Michael Jensen's 6-under 66 and is ninth. Cal won the 2004 NCAA title under current head coach Steve Desimone in its lone NCAA Championship appearance in the past six seasons.
Oregon State, ranked 60th by Golfweek and seeded 18th in the West Region, is trying to make the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2001 and shot a 7-under 281 led by James Allenby's 66. This year marks the Beavers ninth NCAA Regional appearance in the last 15 years. They are tied for tenth with third-seeded UNLV. The Runnin' Rebels are ranked ninth by Golfweek and won the 1998 national champion.
Arizona, the 2006 Thunderbird Invitational champion who also tied with Florida for the 2006 West Regional title held in Tucson, shot 6-under 282 and is 13th. The Wildcats won the 1992 national title under current head coach Rick LaRose.
Wake Forest, the winner of the past two East Regionals, is 3-under 285 and tied for 18th. The eighth-seeded Deamon Deacons, ranked No. 21 by Golfweek, won the national titles by 1974, 1975 and 1986 and finished tied for third at last year's NCAA Championship.
Oregon, the 2007 ASU Thunderbird Invitational Champion who shot a 20-under 844 to win the title April 13-15, shot a 4-over 292. The Ducks are the 20-seed and are ranked No. 57 by Golfweek.
ADMISSION AND SCHEDULE: Admission is free to the event. Second-round play continues Friday (May 18) at 6:30 a.m. from both No. 1 and No. 10 tees while the last group tees at 1:07 p.m. On Saturday (May 19), the third and final round begins play at 6:30 a.m. from both No. 1 and No. 10 tees with the last group teeing at 1:07 p.m. The leaders will tee off early.
LIVE SCORING: Live scoring of the tournament is available at www.golfstat.com.
NOTES: Nine Pac-10 schools are competing in the West Regional...Golfweek rankings have nine of the top 22 teams playing in Tempe...the nation's top three players are in the field according to Golfweek with top-ranked Jamie Lovemark (USC), second-ranked Niklas Lemke (Arizona State) and third-ranked Rhys Davies (East Tennessee State).
BEST IN THE NATION: ASU senior and 2007 co-Pac-10 Player of the Year Niklas Lemke, who earned his undergraduate degree in interdisciplinary studies this semester, is currently the nation's top-ranked player according to Golfstat and is second in the Golfweek rankings. He has posted a 69.87 stroke average in 10 tournaments, which is tied for the school mark set by Paul Casey in 1999-2000. Lemke earned medalist honors at the 2006 Illini Invitational (Sept. 24-25) and at the 2007 National Invitational (April 2-3). He has eight top-five finishes on the year and 12 top-10 finishes in his 46-tournament career (72.15 stroke average). In postseason tournaments, he finished second (2006 and 2007), tied for seventh (2005) and 13th (2004) in his Pac-10 championships and tied for fifth (2006), tied for 56th (2005) and tied for 43rd (2004) in NCAA West Regional action. In NCAA Championship action, he has finished tied for 48th (2006), tied for 19th (2005) and tied for 105th (2004). He earned third-team All-America honors last year and honorable mention in 2005.