What: Big West Conference Championship Tournament
Where: Mission Viejo Country Club – Mission Viejo, Calif.
When: Monday through Wednesday, all day
Who to watch: Sophomore Tyler Raber may be a key element for the Aggies if they are to repeat as Big West Conference champions.
The El Macero, Calif. native shot scores of 71 in both of his final two rounds in UC Davis’ last tournament at Stanford.
Did you know? This will be the first tournament this year in which the Aggies will not face a team ranked in the top-10 nationally. UC Davis’ top competition will be UC Irvine, currently ranked No. 56.
Preview: The Aggies took a serious blow this week, losing junior Austin Graham due to medical issues. Graham is the team’s leading scorer, averaging less than 72 strokes per-round, but won’t be able to defend his Big West individual title.
This will be the first time this season that UC Davis has been without a member of their starting-five, which means everyone will need to play just that much better.
“It’s a great opportunity for the other guys to step up,” said coach Cy Williams. “We’ll find out how we respond.”
Taking Graham’s place will be fellow San Clemente, Calif. native freshman Geoff Hunt. The first time Hunt will tee up for UC Davis will be on a course he is familiar with as he grew up just 15 miles from Mission Viejo.
In Graham’s absence, senior Brent Booth will be the only Aggie from last year’s Big West Champion team to return to the tournament.
This tournament means more than just a conference title to the Aggies, though. It is an opportunity to advance to the West Regional Championships.
“This is our chance to go to the post season,” Williams said. “Win and we advance – it’s our opportunity. It’s that simple.”
Still, UC Davis is trying not to feel too much pressure.
“We don’t talk about it,” said Williams. “We’re just planning to do good things. We better be thinking positively.”
The bottom line is if the Aggies reach their full potential, they will have an opportunity to win.
“We just need to play to the best of our ability,” Williams said. “If we play like we know we can, we’ll be fine.”
– Trevor Cramer