Huskies Lead Wire To Wire And Claim San Diego Title
Feb. 14, 2012
Chris Williams and Cheng-Tsung Pan, who finished tied for third - as Washington claimed its second team title of the 2011-12 year.
The Huskies won the Kikkor Golf Husky Invitational back in the fall, but the victory down in Chula Vista felt much more gratifying.
"We only won this year at the Kikkor Golf Husky Invitational but it didn't quite feel the same because it was a rain-shortened event," Husky Coach Matt Thurmond said from San Diego. "This is the first real win for these guys on a tough course against a tough field.
"It feels great."
Not only did the Huskies - ranked fifth by Golfstat.com - win, but they did so convincingly. UW ended up +6 overall after a third round score of 1-under 287. They outdistanced second place USC by seven strokes and third-place and third-ranked UCLA by 14 shots.
Host San Diego State and Tennessee tied for fourth at +23. Other notables included fourth-rated Stanford in 8th at +38 and two-time defending NCAA Champion Augusta State was ninth at +41.
"We led wire to wire, so from the very beginning we had the pressure of being in the lead. We held up and handled it really well," Thurmond gushed.
Among the individual battles, Williams and Pan fared best on the final leaderboard among Huskies, but it was sophomore Trevor Simsby who was the Huskies' unsung hero. Simsby, who grew up just outside of San Diego in Carlsbad, had a triumphant homecoming by firing a final round 69. His score was the lowest of the three round tournament by a Husky and really helped back the performance of the Huskies' two leaders.
Simsby had a team-best six birdies during the final round, including three straight on holes 14 through 16.
"Trevor starts the day and is 3-over early," said Thurmond of Simsby, who ended up alone in seventh at +1. "He came back and had a good round, so that was huge. When you get an early double (bogey) and another bogey, it could quickly get out of hand. But he battled back really well and that was big.
"We ended up with four guys in the top 13, so it was a great team performance."
Williams entered the final round tied for the individual lead, but was unable to hold onto his advantage. Bogeys on three of his first five holes quickly knocked him off the top of the leaderboard, but birdies on 15 and 16, plus another on No. 2 help him claw his way back into contention.
He and Pan both ended up even for the tournament at 216. They finished two strokes behind University of San Diego's Alex Ching and one stroke behind Garrick Poreous of Tennessee.
"Chris had a good tournament but today wasn't his best day," Thurmond said of Williams who will have to wait another day to claim a school-record fifth medalist honor. "He still competed real well and had an excellent tournament. He beat a lot of good players. He probably feels a little bit like he let one get away, but 74 still isn't that bad out here on this course."
Pan had his own opportunities to win the tournament but saw his chances slip away late. Pan had a stretch of three birdies over four holes to get to 3-under for the round before a double bogey on the par-3 third hole, three holes short of the finish line because of a shotgun start, put him two strokes off the pace.
Charlie Hughes added to the Husky fun by ending up tied for 14th after completing his best tournament of the year. He ended up +5 overall and survived a stretch of three-consecutive bogeys from No.'s 15-17 to end up +1 on the day.
Sophomore Cory McElyea ended up tied for 48th at +15 overall. He shot a final round 76.
The total team effort left Thurmond and his team feeling good, especially considering that they will see a similar environment if they are fortunate enough to advance to the NCAA Championships. The event will take place this year at Los Angeles' Riviera Country Club.
"What I'm most proud about is that it's a really hard course and they played well," said Thurmond. "It is something we pride ourselves in and it was championship conditions out there. You know we're going to be in southern California for a tough championship hopefully at the end of May. It is good practice to play in these championship conditions."
The Huskies will get another feel for championship conditions in their next event from Feb. 27-28. They will be competing at the Del Walker Match Play Championship in Long Beach, Calif., and the NCAA Championship will be decided once again by three days of match play action.