Coming off their first Big West Conference championship and entering as the No. 26 ranked team in the country, the Aggies went into this weekend’s West Regional as one of the favorites to advance to the NCAA Championship.
Unfortunately for UC Davis, things didn’t go according to plan.
The fifth-seeded Aggies finished last in the 13-team regional field at the Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City, Calif.
UC Davis finished two places behind Big West rival UC Irvine in the regional. Arizona State cruised to a first-place finish. Oregon, Texas A&M, San Diego and USC also advance through to the next round.
The Aggies‘ struggles began in the first round. They finished the round in 12th, but coach Cy Williams remained optimistic.
“We’ll play better,” he said. “We’re a good team. We’ve just got to play great golf the next two rounds.… We made it a little harder on ourselves, but we’ve got great players so we’re going to be ready to play.“
The Aggies picked things up in the second round, improving by 13 strokes to move into 10th place.
Senior Ramie Sprinkling shot a 3-under 69 while freshman Tyler Raber fired a 70.
“I thought we played a solid round,” Williams said. “It wasn’t a spectacular round, but it was solid.“
The Aggies couldn’t keep it together in the third round, though, as they saw their second-round 285 turn into a third-round 290 to bring their season to an end.
Although the season may have come to a close in the form of a disappointment, Williams and the Aggies walk away from the 2008-2009 with their heads held high.
“Overall, it was an amazing season,” Williams said. “We had one of the most successful seasons so far in the history of the program. We have to be proud of that.“
UC Davis won three tournaments as a team. It finished in the top 10 in 11 of its 13 tournament appearances.
Williams was named the Big West Coach of the Year for his team’s efforts. Sprinkling, senior Nate Pistacchio and sophomore Austin Graham all were named first-team All-Big West.
“We’ll miss them,” he said of Sprinkling and Pistracchio. “They’ve been a big part of our program. They’ll be irreplaceable and will very much missed.“
The Aggies are also losing Gregg Button to graduation.
UC Davis, though, returns a great deal of young talent for the 2009-2010 campaign.
Graham will return to pace the Aggies next season. He enjoyed a stellar season, winning three tournaments – including the Big West Championship. He was the co-medalist at the local U.S. Open qualifier last Monday.
KYLE HYLAND can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.