Men's Golf Primed For First Pac-12 Championship
April 26, 2012
SEATTLE - In advance of the 2012 Pac-12 Men's Golf Championships to be held at Corvallis' Trysting Tree Golf Club, set to begin on Friday and running through Sunday, Husky Coach Matt Thurmond took an unorthodox approach with his team on Monday.
Thurmond, who led the Huskies to the conference title in 2009 and 2010, turned to friend and colleague Greg Metcalf to speak to his team. Metcalf, the coach of the UW Track & Field led the Husky women's cross country team to a NCAA Championship in 2008 and Thurmond asked him to address the team about his championship experience.
"I know these guys listen to me all year, we have a lot of incredible coaches on this staff and Greg is one of them," explained Thurmond on his reasoning of inviting Metcalf to speak to his team. "Our goal is to win a national championship this year and Greg is someone that has done it. So, I wanted them to hear from someone who has done it and to tell our guys about it."
By all accounts, the speech from the energetic Metcalf brought a renewed sense of focus and motivation to the golf team.
"He really fired the guys up," Thurmond said. "I think he just made them realize the special opportunity they have to be at Washington and to be able to compete for a Pac-12 and National Championship.
"He had a couple of good jokes in there but it was mostly inspirational."
The Huskies are going to need all the inspiration and help they can get this week as they try for their fourth conference championship in Thurmond's 11 years at Washington. The competition this week at the 7,030-yard, par-72 course is going to be stiff. The Huskies are 12th in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, but five teams from the Pac-12 Conference are rated higher.
Factor in that the championship format is play six, count five and that UW is introducing two relatively untested players into the lineup, it could be a stiff challenge for the Huskies this weekend.
"The 6 count 5 format is challenging, there are just so many more shots," said Thurmond. "If you consider a normal tournament, 12 scores count for the finishing score, but in the Pac-12 tournament its 20 rounds that count. Lots of things can happen and that fifth score is really crucial."
But, with players like Chris Williams and Cheng-Tsung Pan at the top of the Huskies' lineup, it would be naïve to consider UW a long shot this weekend in Oregon. Both are among 10 semifinalists for the Ben Hogan Award - handed out annually to the nation's top college golfer - and both are rated among the top-10 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.
"They are just great players that we are fortunate to have in our program; we will just keep getting more players just like them," said Thurmond of his prized thoroughbreds. "To have two players at the same time is pretty special but I think we have a few more special ones on the team and some new ones coming too."
Thurmond was referring to junior Charlie Hughes and sophomore Trevor Simsby. Hughes has a win under his belt during his college career and Simsby has turned in several of the best rounds by any Husky this year. The pair will join with Pan and Williams, who was named a member of the 2012 Palmer Cup for Team USA on Wednesday, to form the backbone of the Huskies' lineup in Corvallis.
"I feel that we are going to have a lot of guys finish at the top or near the top. Don't be surprised if you see Charlie or Trevor in the top 10 or contending as well, they are both playing really well now," said Thurmond.
"But, I try not to set too high of expectations or to even set expectations," Thurmond continued. "I think depth is going to be our key. If we can get three guys up there near the top, and then Larry and Ty who haven't really played a lot for us to play to their abilities...anything could happen."
The Larry and Ty Thurmond is referring to are junior Larry Iverson and senior Ty Chambers. Iverson has teed it up for the Huskies in three events and Chambers has played in two events this season. At least one of the long-hitting Iverson or steady Chambers will have to score low each day and both have shown the capabilities to do so.
"Larry has been playing really well at home and Ty has been playing really well too. Ty has played a lot of tournaments for us and I think he can play well this weekend," said Thurmond.
No matter the result this weekend from Corvallis, Thurmond and the Huskies are really keeping their eye on the big prize - an NCAA Championship. Not that another Pac-12 Championship wouldn't be nice though.
"Certainly we have a few guys that can win this tournament, but every team can say that," said Thurmond. "There are a lot of really good teams in this conference. I think it is going to be really tight at the top between the best players and the best teams."
Pac-12 Championship play commences on Friday at 8:00 from both the No. 1 and No. 10 tees. Washington will be paired with UCLA and California for the first two rounds and will tee off starting a 9:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Sunday's final round will also begin at 8:00 a.m. and pairings will be determined by order of finish through two rounds.
Live scoring can be found on Golfstat.com at: http://www.golfstatresults.com
The Field (Golfweek.com/Sagarin Rankings)
Golfweek/Sagarin Individual Rankings (No. 1 and Pac-12 top 100):