HUTCHINSON, Kansas – No. 8 Washington just couldn’t get on a roll at the NCAA Championships, finishing Monday with a round of 7-over 287. The Dawgs placed 15th overall with a score of 13-over 853 for the week. It was the second-straight year Washington missed match play. UW entered the week as one of just three teams to advance to match play three separate times under the new format.
The Huskies needed to finish in the top eight to advance to the match play portion of the tournament and were in position heading to their final nine holes if they could get hot, but that never materialized.
“It was a bad week for us,” said head coach Matt Thurmond. “We really just needed one good round and that never happened. I think that if this team played up to their capabilities we would have breezed into the match play. No disrespect to the other teams because they are all great teams, but I just thought we were pretty terrible this week.”
The Dawgs played the front nine second, which is the easier of the two nines, but a pair of costly double-bogeys on the par-four fifth put the Dawgs up against it over the final few holes. Washington did make three birdies on the par-five seventh, but that was not nearly enough.
“This course laid out well for us,” said Thurmond. “I really thought we would play well. I didn’t see this coming.”
The Dawgs finished eight shots out of the top-eight. No. 3 Stanford dominated the competition at 13-under, winning by nine strokes. No. 21 UCLA also qualified from the Pac-12, along with No. 1 Alabama, No. 16 LSU, No. 2 Oklahoma State, No. 4 Georgia Tech, No. 28 SMU and No. 9 Illinois.
“We didn’t putt well for sure, but it wasn’t just that. There are a few big drives that you need to find the fairway and we didn’t do that well. That led to some major mistakes that proved costly.”
Individually, Washington was led by Corey Pereira who shot a round of 1-under 69. It was the second round under par for the Husky freshman who placed tied for 19th in his first NCAA Championships. He made three birdies and two bogeys on Monday and avoided anything worse than bogey all week.
“Corey played very well,” said Thurmond. “For a freshman to finish in the top-20 or wherever he ends up is pretty good. Honestly, the play from the rest of the guys was disappointing.”
The rest of the Huskies did struggle with consistency. Each made their fair share of birdies, but also made uncharacteristic mistakes. Cheng-Tsung Pan was the next highest Husky finisher in a tie for 49th. Pan fired a round of 2-over 72, making just one birdie. He finished the week at 3-over 213.
Jonathan Sanders backed up with regional title by finishing tied for 76th after a week of 6-over 216. Sanders shot a round of 3-over 73, but had a pair of costly double bogeys.
Trevor Simsby bounced back from a poor second round to shoot a 3-over 73 on Monday. His double-bogey on the fifth proved costly, however. Simsby finished the week tied for 89th at 8-over 218.
Finally, Chris Babcock rounded out the Husky squad with a 6-over 76. Babcock finished the week at 13-over 213 in 124th place.
It was a disappointing ending for a talented Husky squad ranked inside the top-10 most of the season. The Dawgs had just one tournament win, coming at their home tournament in September, but seven times finished as the runner-up.
“This team was very steady all season, but we could never get over the hump,” said Thurmond. “It was really a theme all year."