NORMAN, Okla. – A breakdown of the third and final round of the NCAA Southwest Regional:
Team winner: Washington (4-under-par 860).
Also moving on: 2. Texas (864), T-3. Florida State and Illinois (871), 5. Oklahoma, (874).
Individual winner: Chris Williams, Washington (7-under-par 209).
Individual advancing: Jonathan De Los Reye, St. Mary’s, (2-over 218, advanced with birdie on first playoff hole).
Hungry Huskies: For the six weeks leading into the regionals, Washington pretty much just muddled along – a pair of fifths and a bit of a disappointing seventh at the Pac-12 Championship. “We just couldn’t seem to kick it in gear, get anything going,” said 11th year Husky coach Matt Thurmond. That change this week when Washington battled some strong Oklahoma winds and shot 4-under 860 to win the Southwest regional by four strokes over No. 1 seed and Golfweek/Sagarin top-ranked Texas. It’s the second region title for Thurmond and third for the Huskies overall. “This past month has been such a struggle so this feels great,” Thurmond said. “It is definitely a huge confidence booster for us. Now, I think we’re ready for Riviera (and NCAA finals).”
Top Dog: Chris Williams added to Washington’s moment in the sun – and wind – as well when he captured medalist honors. And what a finishing show the junior staged. He trailed Illinois sophomore Thomas Pieters by one shot as he stood on the tee of the 586-yard, par-5, 18th hole, playing down wind on this day. Williams blasted a perfect drive and had 195 yards to the hole. He hit an eight-iron over a tree to seven feet and drained the putt for an eagle and a one-shot victory over Pieters. “What a great and awesome finish,” Thurmond said of Williams, who placed second at the 2010 West regional as a freshman. After an opening 73, Williams closed with a pair of 68s, while Pieters started 68-69 before a closing 73. Daniel Berger of Florida State followed at 3-under 213.
Short Shots: The battle for the lone individual advancing (low player not a member of qualifying team) to the NCAA finals came down to not only a pair of freshmen, but a pair from the same West Coast Conference. Jonathan De Los Reye of St. Mary’s and Grant Forrest of San Diego complete regulation tied for 10th at 2-over 218. Starting the playoff on the par-5, 18th hole, De Los Reye hit his second shot on the green, about 50 feet from the hole, and two-putted, sinking a four-footer for birdie as Forrest, who was the WCC Freshman of Year, was conceded par. . . . For only the second time in the last 15 years, Georgia Tech won’t be advancing to the finals. The Yellow Jackets finished sixth, on spot out of the running, but nine strokes shy of the needed score. . . . Texas had the best final-round team score at 4-over 292, while Williams’ 68 was not only the best closing individual number, it was the only sub-70 round of the day.