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GOLF | Gaels Make Late Charge, Finish 2nd At SMC Invitational

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- The Saint Mary's golf team played well down the stretch but came up just short to finish in second place in beautiful, sunny conditions at the annual Saint Mary's Invitational Wednesday at Poppy Hills Golf Course.

The Gaels fired the best team round of the day with 2-under par 282 to finish at 3-over for the 54-hole event, four strokes behind champion San Diego State.  The Aztecs recorded a final round total of 1-over par 285 and were the only team in the field to finish under par for the event at 1-under 851.

Oregon State finished in third place at 15-over par, 12 strokes behind the Gaels and four ahead of fourth-place San Francisco.  UC Davis, Fresno State, San Diego, Arizona, Santa Clara and Texas State rounded out the top 10.

"I felt good about our performance today", said SMC head coach Scott Hardy.  "San Diego State has a really good team.  They are deep and I knew it was going to be tough to catch them.  We closed the gap and had a chance to catch them in the end, but just couldn't quite get there.

"I'm especially pleased with our team performance in that we ended up with a fairly substantial distance from the teams behind us."

SMC senior Jonathan De Los Reyes and sophomore Pavan Sagoo each shared runner-up honors in the medalist competition with identical scores of 69-71-70 for a 3-round total of 3-under par 210.  The duo finished just two strokes behind medalist Sean Walsh of Gonzaga, who shot a 5-under par 208 that included a 5-under par 66 in today's final round.

"Pavan and Jonny shot good scores in all three rounds, so they were huge in carrying our team this week," said Hardy.  "I think tying for second ended up being a very good result for both of them.

De Los Reyes recorded the shot of the day when he holed a six iron from 220 yards out to record a 2 on the par 5 9th hole.  With his parents and a few spectators watching, De Los Reyes' shot landed about 30 feet short and to the right side of the green then rolled down a slight slope directly into the hole.

Sophomore Roman Aragon rebounded from a tough round yesterday to turn in a 1-over par 72.  The Mission Viejo native posted scores of 69-76-72 and finished tied for 17th in the 84-golfer field with a 4-over par 217.

Sophomore Conner Blick, playing as an individual, finished tied for 20th at 5-over with consistent rounds of 73-73-72.  Junior Hunter Rappleye and senior Maclayne Marr, also playing as an individual, tied for 23rd overall at 6-over.  Rappleye also mounted a solid effort after yesterday's high score with rounds of 72-77-70.  Marr went 71-73-75.

Sophomore Perry Cohen showed improvement to finish in a tie for 36th with rounds of 75-76-72 for a 9-over 222.

"Our team responded to the fact that there was pressure on us today.  They knew it was going to come down to the last few holes and they all played well down the stretch.  We found out yesterday how difficult it is to play with a big lead.  This experience will go a long way toward being able to handle situations like this if and when we have it again."

Poppy Hills Golf Course made its return as the tournament host for the Saint Mary's Invitational, to rave reviews from the participants.  The course hosted the first four tournaments from 2005-2009.

"I heard nothing but good things about Poppy Hills and the operation of the tournament from the coaches and players throughout the week," said Hardy.  "A lot of people put a great deal of time and energy into putting on this tournament - from the Saint Mary's and Poppy Hills staff to the NCGA.  We all really pull together to put on the best tournament we can.  I've been involved with college golf for 16 years and this is one of the best I've seen."

The Gaels return to action Monday at the annual Fighting Irish Gridiron Classic at Warren Golf Course in South Bend, Ind.  SMC plays a total of five tournaments during its fall season.

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