Huskies Advance To NCAA Championships With Fourth Place Regional Finish
May 17, 2008
BREMERTON, Wash. - Bolstered by the play of sophomore Nick Taylor whose runner-up individual regional finish set a UW school record, the Washington men's golf team earned a spot in the NCAA Championships with their fourth-place team finish at the NCAA West Regional that wrapped up at Gold Mountain Golf Club, Saturday.
The Huskies, who shot their best round of this week's tournament on the final day, will make their ninth NCAA team appearance in the last 10 years when they head to Purdue for the national championships, May 28-31. With the help of Taylor and senior Zach Bixler, UW shot a final-round score of 1-over 289 and finished with a 54-hole total of 10-over 874.
'The course was playing so tough and the guys just stepped up like I couldn't imagine,' UW head coach Matt Thurmond said. 'We had our best round of the tournament on the final day when we really needed it. Our senior leader Zach was four-under early and I think it really calmed everyone down. Nick said he didn't hit many good shots today but he still found a way to go one-under par, and everyone else just really hung in there. It was awesome.'
Top-seeded USC won their first ever regional crown by two shots over surprise runner-up Oregon. USC was the only team to finish under par at 2-under 862 after an even-par 288 in the final round. The Ducks, led by individual medalist Joey Benedetti, finished at even-par 864.
But while the top 15 teams and individual leaders teed off in the morning, some of the most exciting action on the course took place at the very end of the day. San Diego State, which began the round 20th among 27 teams, made a late surge with the best final round score of 5-under 283, forcing a three-way tie for ninth place with Texas and Pepperdine. With only the top-10 teams earning at spot in the NCAA Championships, a three-team sudden death play-off was held once the entire round was complete.
The playoff procedure featured a five-hole shotgun format with players from each of three teams playing holes 14 through 18 simultaneously. San Diego State and Texas were both 2-under, while Pepperdine's NCAA hopes were dashed with their even-par team score.
Following the team playoff, an individual playoff was held for the second of two individual berths. Wisconsin's Dan Woltman eagled the par-5 ninth hole in the playoff with teammate Tyler Obermueller and Boise State's Troy Merritt to punch his ticket to nationals. Pepperdine's Eric Shriver earned the other individual qualifying spot.
The other teams heading out of the West to the NCAA Championships are Clemson (3-over 867), UCLA (12-over 876), Stanford (14-over 878), Saint Mary's (20-over 884) and Arizona State (21-over 885).
UW's Taylor tied for runner-up individual honors with USC's Rory Hie and Saint Mary's Michael McRae at 5-under 211. Taylor, who started the day in third place, carded a 1-under 71 with the Huskies' chances to extend their season on the line. Taylor's second-place finish broke the previous best regional finish set by Bixler who finished third in 2006.
Bixler also came through for his teammates playing in his last ever regional tournament, shooting a 1-under 71 to finish tied for 25th (4-over 220). All five Huskies shot 3-over 75 or lower.
Junior John Wise improved upon both of his opening round scores by five strokes on the final day, carding a 1-over 73. He finished at 13-over 229 (tied for 79th). Freshman Tze Huang Choo tied for 30th at 5-over 221 and sophomore Darren Wallace tied for 46th (8-over 224).
Oregon's Benedetti led the event from wire-to-wire, winning his first collegiate tournament with a 54-hole score of 9-under 207 on three-straight three-under 69's.