LA QUINTA, Calif. – No. 17 Washington struggled early, but battled back to remain in contention at The Prestige at PGA West. The Dawgs fired a round of 2-over 286 and sit in a tie for fifth place.
No. 11 Stanford, the co-host of the tournament leads after round one, finishing at 15-under and 11 strokes clear of the field. San Diego State is in second at 4-under, while No. 23 UCLA is the only other team under par at 2-under. Oregon is in fourth at 1-over, while the Huskies are tied with LSU in fifth at 2-over.
“I was pretty happy with today’s round,” said head coach Matt Thurmond. “We had a very poor start, but hung in there and turned around what could have been a disaster into a respectable day.”
As a team, Washington made 14 bogeys and just four birdies on the front nine, but turned things around on the back. Threatening to fall out of contention, the Dawgs caught fire, making nine birdies and just four bogeys over the final nine holes to climb back into the tournament.
Corey Pereira led Washington with a round of 2-under 69. The freshman continues to impress and Monday was the lone Husky to play a steady 18 holes with a bogey and two birdies on each side. He sits in a tie for seventh overall with Maverick McNealy and Patrick Rodgers of Stanford tied for the lead at 6-under.
“Corey just knows how to play golf,” commented Thurmond.
Also playing well for the Dawgs was Chris Babcock who is off to a hot start this spring. After a top-10 last week in Waikoloa, Babcock shot a round over even-par 71. Babcock made back-to-back birdies on 11 and 12 to make up for two bogeys and sits in a tie for tie for 15th, six shots off the lead.
“Babs was really steady all day,” said Thurmond, talking about the player who competed as an individual last week, but has secured a spot in the lineup for now.
Also in the top-25 is senior Trevor Simsby who is tied for 25th at 1-over. Simsby made three early bogeys, before birdieing 8,9 and 10 consecutively to get his round back on track.
Finally, Cheng-Tsung Pan and Gerrit Chambers finished at 3-over 74. Each is tied for 37th after getting off to a rough start, but stabilizing over the final nine. Chambers bogeyed five of the first six holes and appeared to be in trouble, but instead responded with two birdies and no bogeys over the final 12 holes. Pan had a similar round, playing the first nine holes at 4-over, but responded with a 1-under 35 on the back to get his tournament back on track.
The Dawgs will be back on the course Tuesday for the second round. Washington remains in contention, despite the rough start and will hopes to climb up the leaderboard by continuing how they played in the afternoon. They will tee off with the first groups beginning at 8:45 a.m. with San Diego State and Arizona State.