Unpredictable finish at USCC
ALPHARETTA, GA.--Whoever came up with that old cliche "It ain't over 'til it's over" (Was it Plato,Socrates or Yogi Berra?) must have had a premonition about today's finish at the U.S. Collegiate Championship.
For the better part of the Tuesday's final round it looked like the Stanford men were going to hang on to their 36-hole lead and leave GC of Georgia's Lakeside Course with the team trophy. Yet in the final 60 minutes, Clemson stormed from seemingly no-where (OK, actually from 13 strokes back to start the day), posting a four-under 284 to pull past the Cardinal by two and claim the title with a 12-over 876 total.
"From my perspective, it really feels good," said Clemson coach Larry Penley, who team earned its first victory since claiming the inaugural USCC title in 2006. "Winning on this golf course, with this field should carry some momentum into the postseason."
Tiger senior Phillip Mollica shot a three-under 69 while juniors Kyle Stanley and Luke Hopkins posted one-under 71s.
The individual race had a similar down-to-the-wire uncertainty. Alabama freshman Bud Cauley had a one-stroke lead over UCLA's Erik Flores on the 17th tee, only to make a double bogey on the par 3 after hitting his tee ball in the water. When Flores, playing in the same threesome as Cauley, made a par on the hole, the Bruin senior had a one-stroke lead on the 18th tee. It was then his turn to make double bogey when his second shot on the par-5 home hole landed in a sand-filled divot hole and his third shot ended up in the water fronting the green. When Cauley bogeyed the hole--hitting his third over the green and failing to get up and down--the duo finished at four-under 212 to share medalist honors.
"Obviously I'd love to see a rules change [on getting relief from a divot hole]," Flores said about his unfortunate circumstance on the 18th. "It sucks that it happened, but there are a lot of things I can take away. I had a great presence on the course. I'm finally feeling good ball-striking wise."
"It doesn't really feel like a win, but I'll take it," added Cauley on his first college title, coming after recently recovering from a right wrist injury that caused him to miss last month's Callaway Collegiate Match Play Championship. "My putting kept me in it all day. Otherwise I wouldn't have even been in a position on the final few holes."
Once again players faced difficult weather conditions, with the temperatures reaching only the mid-40s. Instead of yesterday's sprinkles, however, light snow fell through much of the afternoon.
Stanford finished the final round with a 11-over 299 to claim the runner-up spot at 14-over 878. Georgia Tech finished third (17-over 881), while Georgia was fourth (19-over 883).
That the Tigers, ranked fourth in the latest Golf World/Nike Golf coaches' poll, could hang tough Tuesday, particularly after they were leading after the first round only to shoot a 21-over 309 during the second round.
"We did the same thing in Las Vegas," Penley said. "Yesterday's round pissed our guys off. I saw a more determined focus today than the last round in Vegas. That's a sign of growing up.
"We just needed to win a tournament. It's great to see it. I know how hard these guys have worked. I know how good they can be. Maybe they'll finally believe it themselves."