Washington Claims Pac-10 Golf Championship
April 29, 2009
SEATTLE - The University of Washington won the Pac-10 men's golf championship in style Wednesday afternoon, carding the top-two individual finishes as well as the team title at the Seattle Golf Club.
The win is Washington's first Pac-10 men's golf win since 2005 and its fifth overall. Over three days and 72 holes of play, five Huskies carded 1424 (365-360-347-352), ahead of runner-up Oregon (366-363-350-363 - 1442) by 18 strokes.
Defending Pac-10 champion Arizona State overcame a rough first day to finish third (375-362-356-363 -- 1456), 32 strokes behind Washington. Stanford (1457) and Oregon State (1464) rounded out the top five.
Husky junior Darren Wallace, who won the Canadian Amateur at age 15, held on to his two-day lead for the win, finishing with a three day total of 277 (70-72-65-70) after scoring 2-under 70 on the final day of competition.
Wallace recorded his first eagle of the tournament by sinking a putt from more than 40 feet on the ninth hole.
'I didn't exactly expect to make that eagle,' Wallace said. 'I was talking to [assistant coach] Garrett [Clegg] over that putt, just saying, `I think the chances of making this are about zero,' and when it went in, I was more surprised than anything.'
The eagle was the highlight of Wallace's final 18 holes Wednesday. The junior from British Columbia struggled on the back nine, recording two double bogeys, one on the 528 yard, par 5 18th hole. As a team, Washington carded three doubles and a triple bogey on its final nine holes.
'We did lose some shots coming in,' UW coach Matt Thurmond noted. 'It's the one little thing, but it was a great day, a great day.'
Washington junior Nick Taylor, a finalist for the Ben Hogan award awarded to the best player in college golf, overcame a mediocre start on Monday and improved consistently throughout the championship to finish second (76-70-67-68 - 281). UCLA senior Erik Flores, an early favorite for the individual title, carded the best score of the day (67) Wednesday and finished tied for third (73-73-70-67 - 283) with Oregon's Daniel Miernicki (74-69-70-70 - 283).
Four Washington players - Wallace (1st), Taylor (2nd), Tze Huang Choo (8th) and Richard Lee (tied for 11th) - finished in the top 12. Lee, a community college transfer, birdied five in a row during the final round to finish at 2-under 70 for the day.
'With this group, you never know who's going to be the star of the day,' Thurmond said. 'You know Nick's going to be in there, but Darren's been our really hot hand these past couple months, and Choo's been playing really well - another great finish for him this week. Richard had a time in the season when he was beating Nick, and Chris [Killmer] came out at the beginning of the season as our leader. The consistent thing is the team's been performing well.'
Coming into the championship, Oregon was not expected to contend as strongly as it did. The Ducks did not perform that well at last week's U.S. Intercollegiate, a tournament won by Washington, but freshman Eugene Wong said Oregon always believed it had a shot at the Pac-10 title.
'As a team we've been grinding our butts off. Every day our coach would say, `Yeah, we have a chance to win Pac-10s,' Wong said. 'We didn't have many expectations, but [that] we can be second, we're very happy about it.'
The Ducks, who play four freshman and two sophomores, are one of the youngest teams in the nation. Oregon practices at the Eugene Golf and Country Club, which has a course similar to Seattle Golf Club's.
'It's very similar to this - narrow, big trees, dogleg to the right or left of it and very intimidating par-threes,' Wong remarked.
'I can't think of anything better,' Miernicki said of Oregon's finish. 'The Pac-10 conference is maybe the best conference in golf, and to come in here and beat teams like UCLA and Stanford really speaks volumes for the amount of work we've been putting in. It was a huge payoff.'
Oregon's playing was especially appreciated by the Washington team, Thurmond said.
'Oregon, they helped us,' he added. 'I don't we would have shot what we did today and yesterday had they not played so well.'
1. Washington, -16 (365-360-347-352 - 1424)
2. Oregon, +2
3. Arizona State +16
4. Stanford +17
5. Oregon State +24
6. UCLA +26
7. California +27
8. USC +34
9. Arizona +43
10. Washington State +84