Men's Golf Falls in Playoff at NCAA Regional
May 18, 2013
PULLMAN, Wash. - The San Diego State men's golf team came up short in its quest for a third straight berth in the national championships on Saturday, falling to Ball State by one stroke on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff following the final round of the NCAA Pullman Regional at the par-72, 7,308-yard Palouse Ridge Golf Club.
The Aztecs were poised to qualify for the NCAA Championships in regulation after maintaining sole possession of fifth place midway through the back nine, as the top-five finishing teams earn the right to advance. SDSU led by as many as five shots for that final spot, but faltered down the stretch, eventually dropping one stroke in back of the Cardinals after a pair of untimely double-bogeys. However, the Aztecs managed to force the playoff when Tom Berry (New Haw, Surrey, England) made birdie on the 18th hole.
The two teams subsequently returned to the No. 18 tee, where Ball State's four counting players carded a combined score of 19, compared to SDSU's total of 20. The Cardinals' Alex Stinson sank the winning birdie putt from just a foot away after landing in the bunker on his third shot, ending the Aztecs' season on a heartbreaking note.
Individually, Riccardo Michelini (Carpi, Italy) was SDSU top finisher, tying for 16th place at 4-under 212. After posting a 67 and 70 in his first two rounds, however, the Aztec freshman struggled to a 75 on Saturday, which did not count towards SDSU's collective score in regulation. Despite making two birdies on the front nine, Michelini was unable to overcome five bogeys, including a pair of costly ones at holes 16 and 17.
Xander Schauffele (San Diego, Calif.) logged the Aztecs' lowest score of the final round with a 1-under 71, climbing eight spots to tie for the 41st position at 1-over 217. The Aztec sophomore recorded his second eagle of the week on the par-5, 540-yard ninth hole, ultimately getting to 3-under following birdies at the 15th and 17th; however, a double-bogey on No. 18 would prove disastrous.
Meanwhile, in his final collegiate appearance on Saturday, Berry posted a 74, along with teammates James Holley (Chatsworth, Calif.) and Austin Kaiser (Atascadero, Calif.). Berry began the back nine inauspiciously with three straight bogeys before reeling off four consecutive pars, followed by back-to-back birdies, including the aforementioned clutch putt on No. 18. With his round, the Aztec senior capped off his brilliant SDSU career in a tie for 23rd at 2-under 214.
In addition, Holley ended the tournament in a tie for 37th out of 75 golfers at even-par 216 after shaving two strokes off of Friday's round. The SDSU junior completed an 11-hole stretch from No. 5-16, recording eight pars, three birdies and a bogey before an inopportune double-bogey at No. 17 derailed his momentum.
Rounding out the Aztec lineup was Kaiser, who had his score count for the second day in row. The SDSU junior was even through 10 holes on Saturday, before three straight bogeys sandbagged his round. Despite the hiccup, Kaiser managed to close regulation play with four pars and birdie to finish in a tie for 57th at 6-over 222.
Top-ranked California shot a course record 43-under 821 to capture the Pullman Regional title, setting an NCAA standard in the process with its 11th tournament crown of the season. The Golden Bears boasted three players in the individual top five, including Michael Weaver, who carded a 2-under 70 on Saturday to tie USC's Sam Smith for medalist honors at 14-under 202 for the 54-hole event.
In addition to Cal and Ball State, TCU (-23), Saint Mary's (-22) and USC (-20) punched their tickets to the NCAA Championships, as well as Rodolfo Cazaubon of North Texas, who snagged the individual berth after tying for sixth at 7-under 209.
NCAA Pullman Regional Final Results Palouse Ridge G.C. Pullman, Wash. Par 72, 7,308 yards