2011 Mountain West Conference Champions!
May 7, 2011
The San Diego State men's golf team won its first-ever Mountain West Conference Championship Saturday in dramatic fashion, holding off second-place TCU by just two strokes at the par-71, 7,144-yard OMNI Tucson National Golf Course in Tucson, Ariz. The seventh-ranked Aztecs, who have now claimed six tournament titles in 2010-11, shot a final-round 288 to finish the three-day, 54-hole event with a 5-under 847.
"We set ourselves up with our play in the first two days to be in contention to win," SDSU head coach Ryan Donovan said. "In the end, it was our team's experience that helped us deal with some adversity today. It feels really good to come out with the victory and this ranks among my top two moments in coaching."
On a day that saw three different squads vault into the lead, the tournament came down to the final group on the par-4 18th hole. With a birdie, TCU's Johan de Beer could have tied his team with SDSU at 5-under, however, he ended up carding a bogey to preserve the Aztecs' two-stroke advantage. The Horned Frogs rounded out the championships at 3-under 849, while UNLV, which trailed San Diego State by just one stroke heading into the day, dropped into third place after its final-round 10-over 294.
The Aztecs had three golfers place in the top seven and four in the top 20 overall. Junior Alex Kang (Oak Park, Calif.) posted the team's low score of the day and his second sub-par effort of the weekend with a 69 to move from eighth into fourth place with a 4-under 209. Kang had 14 total birdies over the course of the 54 holes, including five in the final round, to tie for second-most among the field's 45 participants.
SDSU junior J.J. Spaun (San Dimas, Calif.) and senior Johan Carlsson (Gothenburg, Sweden) both finished in the top 10, tying for seventh place at 1-under 212. Carlsson was in a three-way tie atop the individual leaderboard at the conclusion of play on Friday, but after carding only one bogey through the first 36 holes, he had seven in the final round for a 6-over 77. Spaun, meanwhile, moved up one spot with his 1-over 72 to log his sixth top-10 performance in nine spring events.
Aztec junior Colin Featherstone (Fallbrook, Calif.) had his best round of the tournament, carding an even-par 72 with three birdies and three bogeys to jump from 22nd into a tie for 17th at 3-over 216. Sophomore Tom Berry (New Haw, England) bounced back from a quadruple bogey on the par-3 fourth hole with an eagle and two birdies, including one on the final hole, to fire a 5-over 76 and come in 31st place.
In the individual race, there was a three-way tie at the end of regulation with UNLV's Derek Ernst, Colorado State's Ryan Peterson and New Mexico's Travis Ross all finishing at 6-under 207. Ernst, however, pulled out the outright title after carding a birdie on the third playoff hole.
With the conference title, San Diego State earned an automatic bid to the NCAA regional tournament for the 13th consecutive year and for the 16th time overall. The Aztecs will find out which of the six regional sites they will play at on Monday afternoon when the NCAA selection committee announces the field. Two of the possible six destinations include a return trip to the OMNI Tucson National or closer to home at The Farms Golf Club in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., May 19-21.