UW Tied For Fourth After NCAA Regional First Round
May 17, 2012
NORMAN, Okla. - The Husky men's golf team combined to shoot 286 (-2) on Thursday at the NCAA Norman Region and sits tied with St. Mary's for fourth, seven shots off the lead.
Top-seeded Texas and fourth-seeded Florida State both shot 9-under 279 at Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club to take the first round lead. Seventh-seed Illinois is third at -4.
After 54 holes of regional action are complete, the top five teams and one individual from a non-advancing squad all move on to the NCAA Championship to be held at Los Angeles' Riviera Golf Club.
With that in mind, Husky Coach Matt Thurmond will not rest comfortably until Saturday's final round is done. As it stands now, the third-seed Huskies and sixth-seed St. Mary's are just one shot ahead of the cut line; host Oklahoma lurks in sixth at -1, while Arizona is seventh at +1.
"There is concern until we finish the tournament and we're in the top five," Thurmond said. "I'm concerned about where we are at, no question, but you don't worry at this point at what place you're in. I know people like to look at that and talk about it, but what really matters is how far out of first we are.
"We're seven shots out and it's really, really tight around third through seventh, so we won't even worry about that. We'll come out tomorrow and try to close the gap with those that are in the lead."
Freshman Cheng-Tsung Pan led the Huskies' charge on Thursday. He shot a bogey-free 3-under 69 at the 7,351-yard course to give him much needed confidence moving forward.
"I was excited to see Pan have a big round," Thurmond said. "He was really solid from the first hole all the way to the last. And he had been a little frustrated lately so it was nice to see him get off to a good start."
Pan is three strokes off the lead. Texas' Jordan Spieth, a Ben Hogan Award finalist and one of the world's top amateurs, leads the field at -6.
After Pan, the rest of the Huskies' four competitors had up-and-down days.
"It was just a lot of different emotions," explained Thurmond. "Pan was steady, Charlie (Hughes) finished well late, Chris (Williams) collapsed late and Trevor (Simsby) was a guy that was steady all the way through before he had an unfortunate double-bogey on 15, but came back in a big way with an eagle on 18."
That eagle on the par-5, 18th hole allowed Simsby to finish 2-under for the round and tied for 11th among individuals. With the wind at his back, he sat 215 yards away from the pin after his drive. Simsby chose to hit a 5-iron from there, needing to clear a large tree that blocked him from having a clean shot at the green. He cleared the tree, landed about 12 feet from the pin and drained his putt to enter the clubhouse on a high note.
Williams was cruising along at 3-under through 13 holes before his round unraveled down the stretch. The nation's No. 7 ranked player bogeyed 14 and 16 and double-bogeyed No. 17 to end up at +1 for the day. He is third among Huskies and tied for 27th.
Hughes did the exact opposite of his junior classmate Williams. He got off to a rough start with a bogey on the first hole and by No. 12 stood at +4 and without any birdies. Hughes remained at +4 until he notched back-to-back birdies on No.'s 17 and 18.
"He birdied his last two to make him feel a lot better," Thurmond said of Hughes, who is tied for 35th.
"Kind of the opposite happened for Chris. Chris was playing really well for about 13 holes but had a terrible finish and ended up 1-over par."
The non-counting score for the Huskies was a 78 from senior Ty Chambers. Chambers is tied for 64th.
Thurmond was not jumping up and down about the day for his team, but he says his Huskies are enjoying their trip so far and that the course has been a good test for his team. He suspects his team will be able to gain some strokes tomorrow if they can handled the expected increasing winds.
"It was just an okay day," summed up Thurmond.
"We're expecting some higher winds the next couple of days so it should make the scores a little higher. We feel good about the course and we're having a nice trip and enjoying ourselves. Tomorrow we're hoping to have a better round."
The Huskies will be among the first teams teeing off from No. 1 on Friday morning. Washington, St. Mary's and Oklahoma will be paired together and all are scheduled to commence play at 8:20 a.m. CT.