UW Re-Focuses, Mounts Comeback At NCAA Championship
May 30, 2012
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- When the Husky men's golf team was midway through the second round of the NCAA Championship at famed Riviera Country Club on Wednesday all they had to do was look at any of the scoreboards set up throughout the course to see that their season could be slipping away from them. They were in the high-20s out of 30 teams and could not catch any breaks on the course.
Instead of accepting a season-ending fate and duplicating a late-round collapse like Tuesday, the eighth-seeded Huskies buckled their chin straps and scrapped their way back to respectability. Spurred on by solid pars down the stretch and four birdies on No. 17, Washington was one of the few teams in the field to keep their heads above water and finish strong.
"We played great on the back nine," Husky Coach Matt Thurmond said after his team counted a 3-under over the final nine holes.
"When we were at about the 10th hole I looked at the scoring and we were in 28th place. It wasn't a real 28th place because there were a lot of teams that hadn't played yet, but we were on the bottom."
The Huskies started their rally on No. 12 and 13 despite just one birdie during that stretch.
"A big difference for us wasn't on No. 10 and 11 where most people make birdies," said Thurmond, "it was No. 12 and 13 where others were making bogeys while we were making pars and had a birdie.
"That was huge."
Washington entered the clubhouse with a round of 2-over 286 and tied for 14th. After the afternoon wave finished up, Washington was sixth.
Their score tied host USC for low round of the day.
Alabama leads the tournament at 4-over 572. UCLA is second at +8.
After that, the field gets muddled. Third-place Florida State is at 12-over par, but 15 teams are within 10 strokes of the Seminoles.
After the round, Husky junior All-American Chris Williams said it was hard not to notice where his team stood throughout the day, but down the stretch Thurmond helped him re-focus.
"I looked a few times," Williams said about glancing at the leaderboard throughout the day. "But every time I looked it was disappointing, so I stopped looking.
"Coach Thurmond told me on 15 to finish strong and that we're hanging in there. So, I did what I could. I made some birdies and a par here and there. It was a good finish."
Williams was able to shoot even-par 71 and remains 4-over for the tournament. He is tied for 37th among individuals.
Sophomore Trevor Simsby turned in the best scorecard of the day among Huskies. He shot 1-under 70, thanks to shooting a bogey-free, 3-under over the last 12 holes.
Simsby started his day with a birdie on the par-5 opening hole but saw his day turn from there with bogeys on No.'s 2, 4 and 5. After a three putt on No. 5, Simsby ducked into a restroom off the sixth tee not to use the facilities but re-gain his composure.
"I was really mad," Simsby said on why he took the mini-break. "I just needed to take a moment to step back, relax and remember why I'm here.
"I felt like I really stepped up after that. More than that, I just had a clear head and had an understanding that birdies are tough out here. I got a few close and converted, so it was nice."
Like Willliams, Simsby will enter Thursday's final round of stroke play at 4-over for the tournament.
Pan fired 1-over 72 and Hughes shot 2-over 73 on the day. Pan was -1 on the back nine.
Senior Ty Chambers shot 5-over 76 on Wednesday. He was +5 on the front and would of had an under-par back nine if he had not finished with a double-bogey. Chambers is +16 overall.
Thomas Pieters of Illinois is leading the individual medalist race. Pieters, who lost the NCAA Southwest regional to UW's Williams after he eagled the final hole, is -5 for the tournament. He has a two-stroke advantage over Anton Arbodela of UCLA and Tyler McCumber of Florida.
Washington will be paired with North Florida and Oklahoma in Thursday's final round of stroke play and tee off from No. 1 starting at 12:20 p.m.
The top-8 teams after 54 holes will compete in match play starting Friday.