Team winner: UCLA (30-under 810)
Individual winner: Greg Eason, Central Florida (12-under 198)
Also moving on: Teams – T-2. Georgia (827), T-2. Central Florida (827), 4. Texas A&M (829), 5. Arizona State (832); Individual – Dustin Korte, Austin Peay State (6-under 204)
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In winning its third stroke-play title of the season at the NCAA Tempe Regional, UCLA also claimed its fifth regional title in the past decade.
The Bruins won wire-to-wire, and after building their lead to 11 shots in Round 2, brought the same level of intensity to Saturday’s final round. UCLA posted an 11-under 269 at the par-70 Karsten Golf Course, the lowest final round by three shots.
Credit Jonathan Garrick for widening UCLA’s margin of victory even more Saturday. The freshman shot a final-round 64, which was the third 64 posted by a UCLA player over the 54-hole event. Senior Pontus Widegren posted that number in Round 1, followed by fellow senior Pedro Figueiredo in Round 2.
Garrick, who tied for second at 8-under 202, was the low Bruin. Three teammates also finished inside the top 10.
UCLA’s 30-under 810 total is the team’s lowest this season. The Bruins finished 17 shots ahead of runners-up Georgia and Central Florida.
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Lucky No. 50
Host Arizona State secured a spot in the NCAA Championship for the 50th time in program history thanks to a fifth-place finish in Tempe. The Sun Devils advanced courtesy of a significant leaderboard climb.
Arizona State ended the first round in 10th place, climbed to T-5 by the end of the second round and managed to hold their position in Round 3. The Sun Devils posted a final-round 6-under 274, eight shots ahead of sixth-place New Mexico State. ASU entered regionals ranked No. 43 by Golfweek.
Head coach Tim Mickelson can’t explain it, but said his team had a tendency this year to dig a hole in Round 1, then play better as the tournament progressed. By remaining in contention after the first round, Arizona State was able to make up enough ground to earn a spot in the national championship. The Sun Devils clearly have learned to embrace their playing style.
“Certainly we’re still an underdog going to nationals because throughout the rest of the year we’re 50th or so in the country,” Mickelson said. “I think what (regionals) shows is there’s a lot of young talent on this team.”
Freshman Trey Ka’ahanui contributed a final-round 65 that included seven birdies, including one each at the difficult 16th and 17th holes. Ka’ahanui has made just a handful of starts this season, but Mickelson described his play over Karsten’s finishing holes as truly veteran.
“I think he went from a freshman to a sophomore or a junior,” Mickelson said about this week’s experience.
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Duke’s final-round 292 was 12 shots higher than its second-round score, dropping the second-seeded Blue Devils from T-5 to T-7. Duke set a program record with five victories this season and entered regionals ranked No. 8 by Golfweek. . . . Austin Peay State’s Dustin Korte will advance to the NCAAs as an individual, thanks in large part to a first-round 64 that tied a school record. The Govs finished T-7 as a team. . . . Central Florida’s Greg Eason, who shot 7-under 63 in Round 2, became the first Knight to win an NCAA regional title as he cruised to a four-shot victory.