UW Rallies For Second-Consecutive Pac-10 Title
April 28, 2010
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Although Arizona State's Karsten Golf Course is over 1,000 miles away from Seattle, the Washington Huskies have made themselves right at home on the golf course this April. The Huskies rallied from a seven-stroke deficit in Wednesday's final round of the Pac-10 Championships to beat Stanford by three and claim the team's first-ever back-to-back conference titles.
It is the second time in less than a month that Matt Thurmond's UW squad has rallied from an improbable deficit to win at the golf course. On April 3, the Huskies entered the final round of the ASU Thunderbird Classic 16 strokes off the lead and in seventh place before rallying for a two stroke tournament victory.
'It's funny because it has never been that way for us [at Karsten Golf Course]. It has always been a struggle for us. I think we just got comfortable,' said Thurmond after his team accepted the school's sixth-ever conference championship.
Besides 2009 and 2010, Washington has won conference titles in 2005, 1988, 1963 and 1961.
UW senior Richard Lee sunk a par-saving 40-foot putt on No. 18 to put an exclamation point on the victory. Lee arrived on the 18th green with the Huskies holding a two-stroke advantage, but found his ball nestled against the collar making it tough to put solid contact on the ball with the putter.
'We knew we would be okay if he made five,' said Thurmond. 'He could have easily three-putted from there and gave Stanford a chance, but to see that putt go in -- it was awesome.'
Washington was paired with Stanford on the final day of action and was able to closely monitor them and keep them in their sights. The Huskies slowly whittled away at Stanford's lead and by the turn after nine had cut the deficit to three strokes. Shortly thereafter, Washington was able to pull even, and make it a back-and-forth battle over the final three holes.
'They could never get out of our reach. No matter how well they played, we just kept knocking on the door,' said Thurmond. 'I think the pressure finally over time helped us and pushed us over the edge.'
Washington was even-par among the five counting scorers over the final nine holes, while Stanford went +4 during that same stretch.
Lee led the Huskies with a third place finish at -14 overall (270). He finished two strokes behind medalist Eric Mina of California. Arizona State's Jesper Kennegard was third at -15.
The best round among the Huskies belonged to freshman Charlie Hughes. He shot a 4-under 67 and ended up tied for 16th. Hughes probably deserves a lot of credit for clinching the Dawg's win as he was -4 on the back nine, while his playing partner from Stanford, David Chung, was +4 during that same stretch. On No. 16, he and his fellow freshman Williams especially impressed their coach.
'No. 16 is a really tough par-3 that is 225-yards over water with the pin located on the top shelf in the back right corner. Nobody goes for the pin and there were two guys that I saw today that went for it -- our freshmen,' said Thurmond. 'They hit amazing shots and showed what kind of guys they are. As good as they are, they're not afraid of winning and they were a huge part of our success.'
Washington will have some time to soak in their historic victory as they won't compete again until the NCAA Regionals at Gold Mountain Golf Course in Bremerton on May 20-22.
'I'm just so happy for these guys,' said Thurmond. 'What an amazing memory they will have for the rest of their lives. It may never happen again that we win two back-to-back. So, it was a special week for us and a special historic moment. They will forever be enshrined in Husky Golf history.'
When asked if he thought his team grasped the magnitude of what they had just done, Thurmond had this food for thought: 'I don't know. I think they just want a burger.'
1. Washington, -37 (338-352-340-353-1383)
Husky Individual Standings
3. Richard Lee, -14 (64-70-68-68-270)
T8. Nick Taylor, -9 (64-71-68-72-275)
T8. Chris Williams, -9 (71-68-63-73-275)
T16. Charlie Hughes, -4 (72-71-70-67-280)
40. Kevin Spooner, +4 (67-77-71-73-288)
41. Darren Wallace, +5 (72-72-72-73-289)