PULLMAN, Wash. – The Saint Mary’s golf team punched its ticket to the NCAA Championships today with a third-place finish at the NCAA’s Pullman Regional at Palouse Ridge Golf Club.
The Gaels fired a 1-under par 287 in today’s final round to clinch a third-place finish with a 54-hole total of 22-under par 842, the third-lowest 54-hole team total in school history and just one stroke behind runner-up TCU.
“Our performance this week was really good,” said head coach Scott Hardy, who has guided the Gaels to both NCAA championship appearances in program history. “Obviously, making nationals was our main goal coming into the season. To accomplish the biggest goal we set is such a great feeling.
“I was really proud of the way the guys played today, especially on the front nine. I thought they handled themselves well. They hit smart shots and they looked really comfortable. They weren’t fazed by the moment.”
Senior Mac McClung finished fourth individually, the second-best regional finish ever for a Saint Mary’s golfer. The Fremont, Calif. native shot an even par 72 today and finished the tournament with a 9-under par 207. He finished just one shot behind third-place Joel Stalter from Cal.
Saint Mary’s sophomore Jonathan De Los Reyes registered his second-straight top-10 NCAA regional finish with a sixth-place tie. A native of Antioch, he fired rounds of 65-75-69 for a 7-under par 209 to tie with Julian Brun of Cal and Rodolfo Cazaubon of North Texas.
“Qualifying for nationals feels really good,” said De Los Reyes, who qualified for last year’s NCAA finals after winning a playoff against San Diego’s Grant Forrest in Norman, Okla. “I was thinking about it the whole round. I wanted my teammates to experience what I was able to experience last year. Being at nationals last year without my team wasn’t the same and it is something that Mac and Ben (Geyer) deserved to be able to experience.”
Senior Ben Geyer finished in a 7-player tie for 23rd overall. The Arbuckle, Calif. native shot rounds of 68-75-71 and finished with2-under par 214. Junior Dalan Refioglu tied for 30th in the 75-player field with a 1-under par 215 with rounds of 71-71-73.
Junior Alex Bungert, a native of Orange, Calif., tied for 46th with rounds of 72-72-74 for a 2-over par 218.
The Gaels qualified comfortably for the NCAA Championships, scheduled for May 28-June 2 at The Capital Club’s Crabapple Course in Milton, Ga. The top five team finishers and the top individual not on a qualifying team from each of the six regionals advance to the NCAA finals.
The top-ranked Cal Bears won the team title with a course record 43-under par 821 to finish 20 strokes ahead of TCU and 21 ahead of Saint Mary’s. Cal’s victory marked its NCAA-record 11th team title of the season and was its second-straight regional championship.
USC finished fourth, two strokes behind the Gaels, with a 20-under 844. Ball State claimed the fifth, and final, qualifying spot after winning a playoff against San Diego State. The two teams tied after posting identical 3-day totals of 8-under par 856. The playoff became necessary when SDSU’s Tom Berry birdied the 18th hole to place the two teams in a tie. But, Ball State’s Alex Stinson placed a bunker shot a foot from the cup and his birdie putt gave the Cardinals a 20-19 scoring edge and the victory.
Individually, Cal’s Michael Weaver tied with USC’s Sam Smith for medalist honors. Weaver shot a 2-under par 70 to come from behind to tie Smith with both players shooting a 14-under par 202 for the three rounds.
In addition to the five NCAA team qualifiers, Cazaubon was the top individual finisher not on a qualifying team. He finished one stroke ahead of Pacific’s Eric Sugimoto, ended the tournament with a 7-under par 209 and will participate in the NCAA Championships as an individual.