Men's spring preview: Big West

Men's spring preview: Big West

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Men's spring preview: Big West

UC Davis has not won a regular-season title this year, but the Aggies are anything but worried about their chances of taking this year’s Big West Championship.

After winning three conference championship titles in the past four years, UC Davis’ confidence is justified. This has become the team to beat in the Big West.

The Aggies’ success starts with their top player, junior Matt Hansen. With a career average below par, he has been a key component to the Aggie team and a big reason why the Aggies are ranked No. 50 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings.

“I was really close to winning some tournaments [this fall],” Hansen said. “I had some top finishes, I never really had my ‘A’ game in those.”

His best finish was a T-8 at the Windon Memorial Classic, a tournament stacked with Big 10 powerhouses like Ohio State and Northwestern. As for the team, it posted two fourth-place finishes, at the Kikkor Golf Husky Invitational and the Pacific Invitational.

“I’d say we finished right about where our expectations were,” Hansen said. “We had a very solid fall. Our next few tournaments are stronger fields and can increase our rankings for the team and mine personally, too.”

The quest for a fourth Big West title in five years will not only include strong fields but classic courses as well. The Aggies’ spring competition schedule includes the Prestige at PGA West, the Bandon Dunes Championship, the U.S. Intercollegiate hosted by Stanford and the ASU Thunderbird Invitational.

“I’m excited to go up to Bandon Dunes,” Hansen said. “Even though the weather might not be the best, it’s such a fun place to play golf. The links style is much more creative.”

The end goal of this team is to make it to the NCAA Championships, and that starts with the automatic regional bid from winning the Big West Championship. While UC Davis might be the favorite this year, teams like Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine are not far behind.

Cal State Fullerton must build on its three top-4 finishes in the fall. At No. 104 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings, it is not quite on the same level as UC Davis, but upsets are not unheard of when the postseason rolls around.

UC Irvine enjoyed a strong fall campaign as well, posting a 38-21-1 head-to-head record. It should certainly be noted that this team is the only other squad to have won the Big West Championship since 2009.

Regardless of how well the competition may be playing, Hansen and his UC Davis team are focused on their own game, for the Big West title goes through them.

“If we just keep practicing like we are and taking each tournament day by day, we’ll do well,” Hansen said. “We were the favorite my freshmen year and won, and last year we were the underdog and won, so hopefully we can win again this year.”

• • •

Where it stands now

Top of the class: UC Davis

Best player in the fall: Alex Edfort, Pacific

• • •

Past champions

2008: UC Irvine

2009: UC Davis

2010: UC Irvine

2011: UC Davis

2012: UC Davis

• • •

Conference capsules

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