Title Hopes Still Alive As UW Moves On To Match Play
May 31, 2012
PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. -- Washington shot 6-over 290 in the third round of stroke play at the NCAA Men's Golf Championship on Thursday to finish +20 for the tournament and claim one of eight match play spots and a shot at winning the national title.
The Huskies finished sixth overall at Riviera Country Club and will be matched up with Texas, who entered the tournament as the top-ranked team, in Friday's quarterfinals action. The teams will tee off at 12:15 p.m.
The sixth-place finish equals the fifth highest UW has ever ended the stroke play portion of the championship.
It marks the third time in three opportunities that Washington has advanced to match play at the NCAA Championship. The match play format is only in its fourth year of existence, but the Huskies and Oklahoma State - who did not advance to the championship - are the only teams with three appearances.
Alabama earned the top-seed for match play after beating UCLA by two strokes. Texas was third, followed by California, San Diego State, UW and Oregon. Kent State and Florida State will hold a playoff at 8:00 on Friday to determine who gets the eighth and final spot.
The day got off to a great start for the Huskies, who began the final round sixth in the standings. Eagles by Trevor Simsby and Charlie Hughes, plus a birdie by Chris Williams, moved the Huskies up to third in the standings behind Alabama and UCLA. UW was able to occupy that third spot for most of the day.
The Huskies made the turn at a combined 3-under and were able to avoid letting their guard down early on the back nine. Birdies by Ty Chambers on hole 10 and Williams on No. 11 kept the Huskies rolling, but soon the tides turned for the Huskies.
From holes 15 through 18, the Huskies combined for nine bogeys and just one birdie. Fortunately, they had the early success to fall back upon.
"We got off to a great start today," said UW Coach Matt Thurmond. "We played the front nine really well and played the start of the back nine real well. It wasn't as stressful as it often is for me until about the last hour. We started making a bunch of bogeys and it got tight at the end.
"We did a good job today, we really did," Thurmond continued. "The last holes are going to be hard no matter what. Teams are going to struggle on them. We didn't play them very well but we ourselves in such a position that we could afford to do that. We didn't use all our bullets."
Williams, who was named a first team All-American by PING in the awards ceremony following the completion of the round, led the Huskies with a 1-under 70. He ended up a team-best 3-over 216 for the tournament and tied for 21st overall.
"I was feeling good and playing really well," Williams said following his round. "I had a rough three putt on seven, but I came back with a couple pars and a birdie on 11. I was feeling fine and just really ran out of gas down the stretch. I made a couple of bad bogeys and scored par on 17. It was just kind of a frustrating finish."
Cheng-Tsung Pan, who was named to the five-man Golf Coaches Association All-Freshman team on Thursday, was second among Huskies. He shot 72 on Thursday and finished one stroke back of Williams and tied for 29th.
Simsby shot 72 and ended up at 218 and tied for 37th. Hughes tied for 54th with 221 after shooting a 76.
Ty Chambers matched Hughes with a 76 of his own and finished at 234 for the tournament.
With the stroke play portion finished, the Huskies will quickly turn their attention to match play. The eight teams advancing will hold a "pairings party" on Thursday with each coach determining their lineup in a draft-like process.
Thurmond was not giving away any hints as to how he would match up his guys against Texas, but he did say his team would be better prepared than in the past when his team bowed out twice in the quarterfinals previously.
"There are going to be no easy matches and I'm confident that we have done everything we can do to be prepared for match play," Thurmond said prior to knowing that Texas would be his foe. "I think this is a real good match playing team. We're playing very well right now.
"I think any team we get paired against we're going to go `Oh, they're a really good team' but I guarantee that whoever we get paired against us is going to be thinking `Oh (no), we've got Washington.'"
NOTES: Chris Williams was named a first team All-American by PING on Thursday in a ceremony after play concluded. Cheng-Tsung Pan was named to the five-man All-Freshman team. Both were named to the PING All-West Regional team on Wednesday ... Thomas Pieters of Illinois was crowned the NCAA individual champion after finishing -5 overall for a three shot victory. Williams eagled the final hole at the NCAA Southwest Regional two weeks ago to deny Pieters the individual title in Norman, Okla.