June 1, 2012
The San Diego State men's golf team won the first two matches, but then dropped the final three as California's Joel Stalter sunk a 15-foot putt for birdie on the 17th hole to defeat Aztec Alex Kang 2&1 and give the Golden Bears a 3-2 victory Saturday in the quarterfinals of the 2012 NCAA championships. Despite the loss, SDSU posted its best team finish at nationals in its Division I history by tying for fifth place at the par-71, 7,292-yard Rivera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
San Diego State seniors J.J. Spaun (San Dimas, Calif.) and Colin Featherstone (Fallbrook, Calif.) both came away with wins in the opening two matches of the afternoon to give the fifth-seeded Aztecs the early 2-0 lead over fourth-seeded Cal. Spaun was down by as many as two following the seventh hole, but then reduced it to one with a birdie on the par-4 eighth. After halving the next hole, Spaun evened the match with another birdie right after the pair made the turn. He then claimed four of the next five to end the match with a birdie on the 15th hole.
Featherstone, meanwhile, was paired with the Golden Bears' top golfer entering the championships in Brandon Hagy. Hagy took the early lead out of the gate on the first hole with Featherstone pulling even with a birdie on the sixth hole. Featherstone then took his first lead after the ninth hole and maintained that advantage until the 14th when he went 2-up with a par. Hagy won the next hole and the two sides halved the 16th leading into the 17th, where Featherstone made a brilliant shot out of the bunker and then sank a birdie putt to win the match.
Aztec senior Matt Hoffenberg (Simi Valley,Calif.) fell behind early in his match, losing the opening two holes to Cal's Pace Johnson and eventually dropping to three down as the pair made the turn. Johnson went up by four with a birdie on No. 11, but Hoffenberg continued to stick with it by going even through the next four, including identical birdies on No. 14, before simply running out of holes to fall 4& 3.
SDSU junior Tom Berry (New Haw, England) did the reverse of Hoffenberg, going 2-up in the first two holes vs. Michael Kim. The match, however, was all square by the fifth hole and Kim would build a three-hole cushion with a birdie at the 11th. Berry cut it down to two after making par at the 13th, but Kim would later win it with his own birdie on No. 17.
With the match even at 2-2, the winner came down to the final pairing of Aztec senior Alex Kang (Oak Park, Calif.) and Golden Bear Joel Stalter. It was all square through the first three holes, until Kang went 2-up with pars to Stalter's bogeys on the fourth and sixth holes. Stalter would get back to even as they made the turn and then went ahead for the first time on the par-5 11th hole when Kang double bogeyed. SDSU would get back to all square on a birdie putt on 14. After both golfers logged fives on the 15th hole, Kang found the bunker on back-to-back tee shots on the 16th and 17th allowing Stalter to go up by one and then be in position to make the winning birdie putt.
San Diego State enjoyed a highlight filled 2011-12 campaign, winning five tournaments, including four in a row, as well as its second consecutive Mountain West Conference championship. The Aztecs also made the match play portion of the NCAA championships for the first time in program history by vaulting from 15th place all the way into fourth over the final 18 holes of stroke play on Thursday.
(4) California vs. (5) San Diego State
NCAA Men's Golf Championships - Quarterfinal Round
Scores listed are players total from stroke play.
Order of Finish: 1, 3, 2, 4, 5
NCAA Quarterfinal Round
SDSU Post Round Quotes
Head Coach Ryan Donovan
Q: There was a thin line between San Diego State and California all year long?
Q: Is it hard to play match play format when you have not all season?
Q: Talk about the senior class and what they accomplished?
Q: On the fifth place finish in the NCAA Championship?