By Jim Dover
The Prestige at PGA West, October 9-11
The Oregon Ducks cruised to their second straight tournament win with a three-shot victory over Washington at the highly competitive Prestige at PGA West. The Ducks never trailed during the three-day event and were led by senior Eugene Wong, whose 10-under performance was good enough for runner-up honors. Wong had the low round of the tournament with an impressive second round 8-under 64 on the 7,156-yard par-72 layout. Washington freshman Cheng-Tsung Pan used a tremendous 7-under final round 65 to overtake Wong by two-shots for medalist honors in only his second event as a collegiate golfer. Stanford finished in third place despite having only freshman Patrick Rodgers finish in the top 10 as an individual. Fourth-placed San Diego State had the opposite problem as the Cardinals, with Todd Baek and Alex Kang both cracking the top five, but the next Aztec, Wilson Bateman, finishing well back in 30th place.
Alister MacKenzie Invitational, October 17-18
Oregon captured a school record three-in-a-row when they tied with the Cal Bears for the top spot at the par-71, 6718-yard Meadow Club in Fairfax, California. The dramatic ending included a six-foot closing birdie putt by medalist Eugene Wong from Oregon after Cal’s Max Homa rolled in a monstrous 25-foot birdie putt to briefly give the host school Bears the 1-shot lead. Homa’s clutch play was also good enough for runner-up individual honors followed by Cal teammate Michael Kim and Oregon freshman Rak Cho who tied for fourth. San Diego State finished in third place as a team behind another top-five finish by Todd Baek. San Jose State entered the tournament having won their first three tournaments of the year. Unfortunately, a very tough first day left the Spartans out of contention and they finished well back in ninth place.
U.S. Collegiate Championship, October 23-25
UCLA won for the first time this season with a come from behind final round that had every Bruin birdie the final hole. Sophomore Patrick Cantlay led the Bruins with a third place individual effort and four Bruins finished in the top 20. The University of Washington finished in a tie for second with Auburn and were once again led by freshman Cheng-Tsung Pan, who ended up in a tie for third with five other players. Co-medalist for the event were Auburn’s Dominic Bozzelli and Johannes Veerman from Texas A & M, both shooting 6-under for the tournament. USC landed in seventh place behind Steve Lim’s first round 6-under 66 which led the tournament before Lim eventually finished in a tie for 13th.
Freshman Cheng-Tsung Pan could be this year’s Patrick Cantlay after winning The Prestige at PGA West as well as tying Cantlay at the US Collegiate. Chico State senior Kyle Souza followed up last year’s Division II Championship win with back-to-back medalist honors to begin the season. The Wildcats as a team also began the season undefeated in two starts before finishing seventh in their third event at the Otter Invitational.
Stanford Intercollegiate, October 14-16
UCLA scored their second victory in as many events with a three-shot win over second place Vanderbilt. The win was even more impressive considering the Bruins didn’t use senior Stephanie Kono’s second-place individual score due to a prior playing commitment a week earlier at the Stage III LPGA Qualifying Tournament that didn’t allow her to compete for a team spot. Kono’s 54-hole 11-under score included all three rounds under 70 and was her personal collegiate best. Medalist honors fell to Washington freshman SooBin Kim who shot an impressive 13-under score that included an opening and closing round 5-under 66. Kim’s 54-hole total set a new school record for the Huskies and placed the team in third place for the event.
Mercedes-Benz SEC/Pac-12 Challenge, October 21-23
Alabama ended UCLA’s perfect season with a 4-shot victory over the Bruins in a stacked field that included eight of the top-10 ranked schools in the country. The Crimson Tide were led by medalist Stephanie Meadow who set a school record with her fourth career win. The sophomore won for the first time this year to go with her three wins last year that earned her SEC Freshman of the Year honors as well as first team All-American honors. UCLA led after the first round, but a poor effort on day-two was too much for the Bruins to overcome. Freshman Erynne Lee led the Bruins with a 1-under fifth place finish. USC finished in a tie for fourth place with Tennessee and were led by Lisa McCloskey and Kristen Park who tied for seventh individually. Park’s 4-under final round 68 moved her 30 spots up the leaderboard.
Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown, October 24-26
Pepperdine sophomore Grace Na shot an opening round 9-under 63 and then cruised to her first victory of the season and second-career win. Her impressive nine birdie, no bogey performance in round one tied an NCAA record and led the Waves to a tie for second place with San Diego State. Winning the event was UC-Davis led by sophomore Jessica Chulya and freshman Bev Vatananugulkit who finished in third and fourth place respectively. It was the second win of the season for the Aggies, previously winning the Ptarmigan Ram Fall Classic, and included a school record 11-under team score in round one for an eventual 15-shot victory.
Coach Carrie Forsyth has an embarrassment of riches with her current UCLA squad and handling those demands was never more apparent than at the Stanford Intercollegiate. Second-place finisher Stephanie Kono and current U.S. Public Links Champion Brianna Do both played in Stage III LPGA Qualifying Tournament that didn’t allow them to compete for a team spot. Forsyth played two freshmen and still won the tournament, while Kono and Do both advanced to the final stage of Q school.