Day 1 recap: Cal, UCLA on top at NCAA men's golf regionals

Top-ranked Cal and UCLA are in first place and six of the ten Pac-12 teams that qualified for regionals find themselves in fourth place or better after the first round of the NCAA Men's Golf Regionals. The top-5 teams from each of the six regionals along with the lowest individual from a non-qualifying team will head to Atlanta for the NCAA Championships May 28-June 2.

Pullman Regional


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Having won ten tournaments this year while sweeping the Pac-12 men's golf monthly honors, it should be no surprise that the top-ranked Golden Bears are in first place after the first round on the Palouse Ridge -- Cal holds a two-shot lead over Saint Mary's going into Friday. What might be a tad surprising is that Michael Kim, the top-ranked individual golfer by both Golfweek and Golfstat, finished fourth on his team. That might sound bad, but Kim shot a more-than-respectable 3-under, so it speaks more to the depth of this Cal squad that currently has two golfers tied for third and another in a seven-way tie for eighth on the player leader board. February Pac-12 Golfer of the Month Joël Stalter and Michael Weaver are both minus-7, while Brandon Hagy is 6-under. And that, my friends, is how you get to 23-under as a team on a beautiful course like this:

 


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So Cal does all that work but can't get one of its golfers atop the player leaderboard?! That's because Trojan Sam Smith shot A 62 (-10) to claim the No. 1 spot through 18. Check this -- no bogeys, an eagle on 15, a 5-under over the last four holes and a 29 on the back nine. Yeah that's pretty good. That has to be some sort of record, right?

 

As a team, the Trojans find themselves in fourth place at 16-under. Troy also got a big round from Yi Keun Chang, who birdied each of his last four holes to finish 6-under.

Tempe Regional


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'Twas all UCLA all day at Karsten Golf Course in the land of the Forks. Through 18 complete, the Bruins lead the 14-team regional at 12-under and hold a ten-stroke lead over second-place Duke. Still 36 holes remaining, but that's not a bad start. The Bru Cru's Pontus Widegren is tied atop the leader board after a 6-under on Thursday (this coming on a par-70 course, mind you) that was helped by an eagle on 17. Like Cal, every score that counted for the Bruins was under par. But then again, what else would you expect from the top seed in the regional that had all five of its starters earn all-conference accolades?


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The host Sun Devils have a little catching up to do if they want to book a trip to Atlanta. Ninth-seeded Arizona State is in tenth after shooting a collective 284 (+4). The Sun Devils are currently four strokes off the pass line, as five schools (Georgia, Texas A&M, North Carolina, Clemson and Central Florida) are at even par. You don't have to scroll down too far to find a Fork on the player leader board -- Spencer Lawson is in a six-way tie for 17th (as is UCLA's Jonathan Garrick) at 1-under. Unfortunately for Tempe's institute of higher learning, Lawson was the only Sun Devil at even par or lower. Head coach Tim Mickelson can expect a better round out of Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Jon Rahm, whose 3-over has him in a tie for 45th out of 75 golfers. In case you were wondering... Yes, Tim Mickelson is Phil Mickelson's younger brother.


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The Wildcats have more than a little catching up to do if they want to book a trip to the land of the free and the home of the Atlanta Braves. Seeded 11th, the Cats are in 13th with a plus-12 (292). There are still 36 holes for the Wildcats to make up 12 strokes, and it will take more than a 1-over to be the lowest score for the round, like Erik Oja's 71 was for the day. Perhaps senior Trent Redfern can help climb the Cats out of this hole, as his four birdies led all Arizona golfers on Thursday (his younger brother Brenden is a sophomore on the team). Unfortunately for him and his teammates, he bogeyed five of his last six holes.

Tallahassee Regional


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The top-seeded Dawgs finished their opening round in second place by shooting 276 (-12) as a squad. However, things really didn't start to kick in to gear until the end of the round:

 

The aforementioned Cheng-Tsung Pan is currently in a tie for fourth with that 67 of his, While Chris Williams' 68 is good for an eight-way share of sixth. Another guy to root for is Charlie Hughes, UW's quintessential student-athlete. Hughes' 71 made him one of four Huskies to finish under par for the day, doing so thanks to a birdie on 18. As a team, the Huskies trail fourth-seeded North Florida by four strokes heading into Friday.


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The Quacks find themselves situated rather well after the first day, 8-under as a team and in a three-way tie for fourth along with Georgia Tech and South Florida. Only two of those three could advance if everything holds, but rarely does everything hold with still two-thirds of the way to go. Oregon added a nice touch to the day's proceedings by honoring Alex Rovello, the Oregon tennis player who died in a tragic accident last weekend:

Brandon McIver and Jonathan Woo both got in at 3-under to pace the Ducks. Woo started strong with five birdies in his first eight holes, while McIver finished strong with four birdies in his last eight.  
 

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Things aren't looking as hot for the Beavers after day one-- Oregon State is 292 (+4) as a team. This puts them 12 strokes off the cut line and in tenth place. All-Pac-12 second-teamer David Fink and Matt Rawitzer fared well as both shot 2-under for the round, but nobody else in orange and black shot better than 4-over.    

Columbus Regional  


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There's a crowded bunch at the top of the team leader board on the Scarlet Course through 18: The top-7 teams are separated by just seven strokes. The lone Pac-12 team competing at THE Ohio State University is right in the thick of it, as the Stanford Cardinal are alone in third place after a first-round 291 (+7).  Less than a tenth of the Columbus field finished Thursday under par, but Cameron Wilson was one of them with a 1-under 70, good enough for a four-way tie for fourth. First team All-Pac-12 golfer Patrick Rodgers isn't far behind at 1-over, and the sophomore from Indiana is happy to be back in the Midwest:

The Card will be looking up at Charlotte and South Carolina on the leader board heading into Friday's round.

Fayetteville Regional


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Making its first regional appearance in four years, the future for Colorado men's golf is trending upward. The here-and-now ain't looking bad for the tenth-seeded Buffs, either, as they find themselves just two strokes out of the top 5 with a 292 (+4) to put them in sixth place going into Friday. Why not be happy about a round like that? The Buffs certainly have the positive juices flowing:

Gotta like that hashtag, right? As you can tell from the tweet, David Oraee is Colorado's low man, and his minus-1 has him in a tie for ninth heading into round No. 2. The team Colorado will be keeping an extra close eye on Friday is Arkansas; the fifth-place Razorbacks are currently the team the Buffs need to usurp to advance to the NCAA Championships.

Regional action continues tomorrow and concludes Saturday. Check the Pac-12 Post each of those days for more recaps.

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