Top-Seeded UW In Finals After Two Match Play Wins
Feb. 27, 2012
LONG BEACH, Calif. - The Husky men's golf team won twice during Monday's action of the Del Walker Match Play Championships at Virginia Country Club to set up a much anticipated finals battle against UCLA on Tuesday.
The top-seeded Huskies, ranked fourth in the latest Golfstat.com ratings, rallied to beat UC Davis 4-1 in a morning quarterfinals match before dispatching fourth-seeded and No. 9 rated California in the semifinals.
Junior Chris Williams, freshman Cheng-Tsung Pan and sophomore Trevor Simsby each went 2-0 from the top three spots in the lineup. Junior Charlie Hughes split his matches from the No. 4 hole, while Larry Iverson was also 1-1 at No. 5.
Williams, the world's No. 5 rated player, beat UC Davis' Matt Hansen 3&2 in the morning and then took out Cal's Max Homa 1up in the quarterfinals. Williams had to rally to beat Hansen, as he trailed by two after eight holes. He would notch back-to-back birdies on No. 9 and 10 to square the match and won No. 12 to take a lead he would never relinquish.
In the semifinals Williams led by as much as three up after eight holes before holding off a late charge from Homa. Cal's No. 1 player evened the match on No. 17 before Williams put him away on the final hole to earn the win.
"The thing about Chris in match play is that he hits it so straight and he is going to be in the fairway and on the green on almost every hole; so it just wears people out," Husky head coach Matt Thurmond, a big proponent of match play said. "It is really hard to beat somebody that just isn't going to make mistakes."
Very few mistakes also came from Pan at the No. 2 spot. He won 5&4 over Josh Granger in the morning and 4&2 against Brandon Hagy in the afternoon. Pan broke open a close match vs. Granger by winning four-straight on No.'s 11-14 and needed 16 holes to beat Hagy in the semifinals.
The most dominant performance of the day was turned in by Simsby at the No. 3 spot in the lineup. He led from start to finish in both his matches, earning a 7&5 decision over UC Davis' Andrew Haggen and 4&3 over Cal's Pace Johnson.
"People have come to expect that from Chris or Pan," Thurmond said of Simsby's performance, "but for Trevor to be so dominant is a huge help for us."
Monday's showing continued a maturation process for Simsby that has included a 7th-place finish at the San Diego Intercollegiate two weeks ago.
"Trevor has realized what it really means to have focus and the kind of work ethic that it takes to be great at something and he is doing it. He is approaching everything with so much more purpose and commitment," said Thurmond.
Hughes trailed his morning match against UC Davis' Luke Vivolo by as much as three holes before mounting a rally on the back nine to earn a 1up win. Hughes took the lead on No. 16 against Vivolo and never looked back from there.
Hughes led his afternoon match vs. Cal's Keelan Kilpatrick by 3 holes after nine, but saw his advantage disappear for good on the 16th hole when Kilpatrick carded his third birdie on the back nine.
Iverson dropped his first match 1up to Mike Brockington, but rallied in the afternoon to beat Jeff Hamm 4&3. Brockington needed all 18 holes to shake Iverson, who held a 1up lead after 13 holes. A birdie by UC Davis' No. 5 golfer on No. 14 squared the match and Brockington took the lead for good on No. 17 when Iverson bogeyed.
Iverson followed up in the afternoon with a stellar match vs. Hamm. He gained the advantage on the third hole and never relinquished it from there.
The Huskies win sets up a finals matchup against No. 2 seed and fifth-ranked UCLA. In the most-anticipated match, Williams will get to face former Walker Cup teammate and current world No. 1 ranked amateur Patrick Cantlay.
"I can't wait," Thurmond said of Tuesday's final pairing. "I know Chris is especially excited to face Patrick on his home course. He shoots low scores on this course every day.
"UCLA is a great team and this could be a preview of what is going to happen at the NCAA Championship."
This is the first time in the 15-year history of the Del Walker, the tournament has been changed to a match play format.
The tournament is an important test for the Huskies and the rest of the field. The NCAA Championships, being hosted at Los Angeles' Riviera Golf Club from May 29-June 3, are decided by match play after the top eight teams advance after 54-holes of stroke play.