West: California stays hot with Regional victory
A breakdown of the third and final round of the NCAA West Regional:
Team winner: California, 25-under 815
Individual winner: Josh Anderson, Pepperdine, 14-under 196
Also moving on: 2. San Diego State (821), 3. Alabama-Birmingham (830), 4. Stanford (832), 5. UCF (835)
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SIMPLY GOLDEN: California has picked a great time to play its best golf, with the Golden Bears picking up a third win in their last four starts in claiming the West Regional at the par-70 Stanford Golf Course in Palo Alto, Calif.
Cal followed a standout second round (15-under 265) that catapulted them into the lead with Saturday's best round of 11-under 269, clearing San Diego State by six shots.
It was Cal's first ever Regional victory, while also the sixth team victory of its stellar 2011-12 season. Cal has finished in the top 5 in each of its 13 events this season.
“We have won six tournaments this season and not just any tournaments,” Cal head coach Steve Desimone said. “We won the conference championship three weeks ago and now an NCAA Regional, which is all the more special. Now, we head into the NCAA Championship with a great deal of momentum. We have a week to practice, and I think we will really be ready to play when we get to Riviera.”
The Golden Bears move on to the 30-team NCAA Championship, scheduled for May 29-June 3 at the Riviera Country Club near Los Angeles. It is the third-straight trip to the Championship for Cal.
Brandon Hagy led California's charge on Saturday, firing a 4-under 66 to finish third as an individual at 11-under 199. It was the highest finish of his career.
“Qualifying for the NCAAs has been our goal the entire season,” Hagy said. “Our theme the whole year has been ‘Riviera 2012.’ We expected to be there. We’ve played really well all year, but we still have unfinished business. We still want to go and play well at NCAAs, make match play and really prove to the rest of the country how good we are, and how good we’ll be in match play.”
Overnight leader Michael Kim cooled a bit on Saturday, but still finished T-4 by shooting a 1-under 69 to finish at 10 under for the tournament. Max Homa gave Cal three players in the top 10, earning a 3-under 67 on Saturday to finish at 4 under in a tie for 10th with four others. Homa moved up 14 spots on the leaderboard with his standout final round.
“I didn’t make many mistakes but just didn’t make as many putts as I would have liked today,” Kim said. “I came up a little short individually, but we still came up with the win as a team and that’s the goal.”
Cal advances to its eighth NCAA Championship, having won the title in 2004.
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IG-KNIGHT-ED: Sitting four shots behind Tennessee for the fifth and final spot, UCF put together a solid 2-under 278 to leapfrog the Vols and earn a trip to the NCAA Championship for the first time since 2009. Both Jose Joia and Ricardo Gouveia fired 1-under 69s, while Brad Schneider and Greg Eason weren't far behind at even-par 70.
"We are ecstatic," head coach Bryce Wallor said. "Going into the last round, we knew we were ready to play. Our guys flat out got it done."
The Knights were making their sixth-straight Regional appearance.
"I am very happy for our team. I am so proud of them for putting their nose down and doing that they needed to do," Wallor said.
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SHORT SHOTS: Pepperdine's Josh Anderson capped the second-best 54-hole total in school history with a 6-under 64 to claim the individual title and advance to Riviera. He beat San Diego State's J.J. Spaun by two shots to win the title . . . After holding the lead after the first round, San Francisco turned in disappointing rounds of 281-285 (6 over) to finish the tournament, falling down to T-7 . . . Five players - Anderson, Hagy, Kim, Joia and Tennessee's Rick Lamb - carded three rounds in the 60s for the tournament . . . UAB (Graeme McDowell's alma mater) returns to the Championship for the first time since 2008 and will make its fourth appearance in the finals.