This year in Pac-12 Men's Golf
By the Pac-12 Conference
WALNUT CREEK, Calif.-- The Pac-12 enjoyed another remarkable season in men's golf, highlighted by California's record-setting run to the NCAA Championships and a bevy of national individual honors for Conference golfers. Cal, which became the first team in modern era to win 11 of its first 13 events, established a new NCAA record for tournament wins in a season. The Conference was well represented on the national awards circuit, as a pair of Pac-12 players garnered national player of the year accolades and four were named PING first team All-Americans. Four teams were ranked among the top nine in the final GolfWeek rankings, and a fifth cracked the top 20. Additionally, nine individuals found themselves ranked among the top 25 in GolfWeek's final individual rankings. Ten Conference teams received NCAA Regional bids--more than any other Conference--and five qualified for the NCAA Championships, where California senior Max Homa collected individual medalist honors.
California's Michael Kim was named the Pac-12 Men's Golfer of the Year, Jon Rahm of Arizona State was tabbed Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and California coach Steve Desimone picked up Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors for the second straight year. Kim also became Cal's first-ever recipient of the Jack Nicklaus Award, which recognizes the top players at the Division I, II,III, NAIA and NJCAA levels. Washington's Chris Williams won the prestigious Ben Hogan Award, which is presented annually to the nation's top collegiate men's golfer, taking into account all collegiate and amateur competitions during the past 12-month period. Cal's Kim, Homa and Michael Weaver and Stanford's Patrick Rodgers were named Division I PING first team All-Americans. Kim, Weaver and Rodgers will represent the United States in the Palmer Cup (June 7-9), while Cal's Joël Stalter will compete for the European squad. The Bears' dominant run through the regular season yielded five Pac-12 Golfers of the Month, marking the first time that a team has swept the award.
NCAA Championships (Thursday, May 28 - Sunday, June 2)
California's Max Homa became the first men's golfer in school history to capture individual medalist honors at the NCAA Championships, but the top-ranked Golden Bears fell to Illinois in the semifinals of the tournament. Cal earned the No.1 seed in the round of eight--the match-play portion of the event--after claiming a six-stroke advantage through three rounds of stroke play.
Arizona State was paced by Jon Rahm, who finished in a tie for second place with a 54-hole total of 204 (six-under). The talented freshman fired a 61 on day one of competition, the lowest opening round score in NCAA Championship history. The Sun Devils finished stroke play in a tie for sixth place and survived a four-team playoff to earn a spot in the quarterfinals, where they dropped a tightly contested decision to Cal, 3-2. UCLA, USC and Washington also qualified for the NCAA Championships. The Huskies finished tied for 16th place, while the Trojans tied for 23rd and the Bruins finished in 26th.
The Pac-12 has claimed 14 NCAA team titles and produced 16 NCAA individual champions. Since 2003, the Pac-12 has netted three team champions (2004 - California; 2007 - Stanford; 2008 - UCLA) and five individual champions (2003 - Alejandro Canizares, ASU; 2005 - James Lepp, WASH; 2007 - Jamie Lovemark, USC; 2008 - Kevin Chappell, UCLA; 20013 - Max Homa, Cal).
NCAA Regionals (Thursday, May 16 - Saturday, May 18)
California and UCLA won the Pullman and Tempe Regionals, respectively, while Washington placed second in the Tallahassee Regional, USC finished fourth in the Pullman Regional and host Arizona punched its ticket with a fifth-place finish in the Tempe Regional. Cal, paced by Michael Weaver's 14-under 202, cruised to a 20-stroke victory in the Pullman Regional to secure its unprecedented 11th tournament victory of the season. The Golden Bears broke the unofficial NCAA record for tournament wins in a single season set by Oklahoma State in 1985-86.
The top-seeded Bruins carded an 11-under 269 in Saturday's final round and pushed their 54-hole total to 810 (-30) to outpace second-place Georgia by 17 strokes at the Tempe Regional. Freshman Jonathan Garrick, who shot Saturday's low round (64), finished in a tie for second place in the individual standings with an eight-under 202.
The Huskies, who held the top seed in the Tallahassee regional, finished in second with a 31-under 833 at Golden Eagle Country Club. Sophomore Cheng-Tsung Pan posted a 15-under 201 for the tournament to claim individual medalist honors, marking the third time in four years that a Husky has won the individual title at an NCAA regional.
USC, propelled by Sam Smith's 14-under 202, carded a 20-under 844 to finish fourth in the Pullman Regional. Smith earned a share of the individual title, and the Trojans claimed a spot in the NCAA Championships for the seventh year in a row. The win was Smith's first of his collegiate career.
Arizona State earned its 50th NCAA finals bid after placing fifth with an eight-under 832 at Karsten Golf Course in Tempe. The Sun Devils, led by Tempe native Trey Kaahanui (5-under 205), finished 22 strokes behind tournament champion UCLA. Kaahanui fired a career-low 65 (-5) in the final round to jump from a tie for 21st to ninth in the final individual standings.
Colorado, the No. 10 seed in the Fayetteville Regional, rode a first round 292 to an eighth place finish at The Blessing Golf Club. Oregon missed the NCAA cut by just two strokes, finishing eighth in the Tallahassee Regional at eight-under 856. Oregon State finished one spot higher than its in-state rival, placing seventh with a nine-under 855 at Golden Eagle Country Club, while Arizona, which carded a 19-over 859, finished 12th in the Tempe Regional. Stanford posted a three-round total of 884, 32 strokes above par, to finish in seventh place in the Columbus Regional.
Pac-12 Championship (Monday, April 29 - Wednesday, May 1)
Cal (1,406, +6) posted a nine-stroke victory at The Los Angeles Country Club to capture its second consecutive Pac-12 title. The Bears, who held a two-stroke lead over runner-up UCLA through 54 holes, picked up seven strokes on Wednesday to secure their unofficial NCAA-record-tying 10th tournament victory of the season. UCLA, which carded a 15-over 1,415 for the tournament, took second, while Washington finished third at 32-over (1,432).
Max Homa, who set a course record with a 9-under 61 in round one, collected medalist honors with a 9-under 271 for the tournament. He became the third Bear to win the individual championship and the first to accomplish the feat since Eric Mina won the title in 2010. Michael Weaver finished in second at 4-under 276, while Chris Williams fired a 2-under 278 to finish in a tie for third with UCLA junior Anton Arboleda. Washington junior Trevor Simsby and UCLA freshman Jonathan Garrick tied for fifth at 1-under 279.