The last event before a championship is always important to build momentum.
Heading to the U.S. Intercollegiate in Stanford, Calif. the Aggies were hoping to set the tone for the upcoming Big West Conference Championships.
They did not get off to the start they were looking for.
UC Davis began the tournament with a first round score of 33-over, placing them 19th in a field of 20 teams. The coaches took responsibility for the rough opening.
“We got off to a bad start,” said coach Cy Williams. “Our coaches weren’t clear enough on what the best strategy was on certain holes and it hurt us.”
It didn’t help that the team was forced to deal with some tough course conditions.
“We had to deal with some heavy winds,” Williams said, “and the greens played really fast. It’s harder to make things up in rough conditions because it means more pressure.”
The Aggies were resilient however, and they were able to bounce back in the final two rounds, shooting scores of 7-over and 6-over respectively. Overall, they finished tied for 16th at 48-over.
“We came back with two solid rounds,” Williams said. “It was close to where we need to be.”
Junior Austin Graham had an especially impressive turn-around, going from a first-round 7-over to scores of 2-under and even-par in his final two rounds. The San Clemente, Calif. local led the Aggies by finishing tied for 31st – 13 strokes behind winner Daniel Miernicki of Oregon. Despite the improvement, UC Davis does not believe he reached his full potential.
“He putted really well,” Williams said, “but he feels that he could have hit the ball better. He could easily have gotten to 4 or 5-under those final two rounds. He was very close to having a huge tournament.”
Graham’s teammate, senior Brent Booth also had a strong turnaround. Booth shot 10-over in his first round, but rebounded to finish with a final score of 12-over, good for a 64th place tie.
Sophomore Tyler Raber also had a strong final two rounds and was able to finish tied for 57th.
The Aggies feel that playing a tough field in this tournament will help them be ready for the Big West Conference Championships.
“Any time you play great competition it prepares you,” Williams said. “It helps show us what we are doing wrong and now we can improve on it.”
UC Davis also knows that it will take a full team effort to take home a Big West title.
“We only had three guys playing well at this tournament,” Williams said. “Ideally we would want five, but we need at least four. If we can get four guys going for Big West we’ll be in good shape.”
TREVOR CRAMER can be reached at email@example.com.