Golf finishes 15th at NCAA’s

    For the first time since moving to Division II in 2000, the UCSD golf team took part in the Division II National Championships, held at the Victoria Hills Golf Course in DeLand, Fla., May 12 through May 15, placing 15th in a field of 18 teams.

    “It was a pretty hard course, but we really suffered from some extenuating circumstances,” head coach Mike Wydra said. “We had to change for playing on Bermuda grass, which is a very different acting grass, and we had trouble making adjustments, especially our players who had never played on it before.”

    The primary extenuating circumstance that plagued UCSD was senior team captain Alan Scheer’s driver head cracking. This forced him to use a driver from the pro shop for his third and fourth rounds, after which he could not find his stride again, despite coming off a second-round score of 72.

    “We tried to have a new driver shipped in through an alumni connection with MacGregor, but the club arrived too late,” Wydra said. “He played as well as he could without the proper equipment in his third and fourth rounds, but this was just terrible for our senior. He didn’t deserve anything like this to happen to him.”

    UCSD’s team scores were severely raised as a result of Scheer’s equipment failures, and the perennial top-three finisher was relegated to the four spot on the team.

    UCSD managed to put together two rounds that would have yielded it a top-10 finish, shooting scores of 307 and 303, 19 and 15 over par, respectively. However, things started to deteriorate on May 14, when UCSD put up 314, and on May 15 when the Tritons posted 313. UCSD’s four-round total was 1,237, 85 over par, still close to netting a top-10 finish.

    “Al’s driver problem brought everyone down,” Wydra said. “The morale of the team was really lowered.”

    Individually, UCSD was led by junior standout Brian Duckworth, coming off a 10th-place finish at the NCAA Regional match. Duckworth was nothing but consistent in his first three rounds, posting three straight 77s, 5 over par.

    “I’m really disappointed,” Duckworth said. “We worked hard all year, and had some great finishes, and then to come out at Nationals and have one of our worst finishes of the year, it was just really disappointing. This was a tough course, but everyone knows we could have done better.”

    Duckworth came back on the fourth day to finish with a 74, the third best round for the Tritons in the tournament, giving him a final score of 305. He finished overall in a tie for 27th place.

    “Every time I started to get on a roll, something went wrong,” Duckworth said. “I had a couple good stretches where I thought I could get something going, but I would always hit a wall — get a double bogey or miss a putt. We still had a great year overall as a team though.”

    Coming in second for UCSD was junior Joe Dolby, coming off a solid eighth-place performance at the NCAA Regionals. Dolby started off great on May 12 with a 73, 1 over par, the lowest round of the day for the Tritons. Suffering some in the second and third rounds, he turned in two consecutive 79s. Dolby came back on May 15 to shoot a 76, 4 over par, which was enough to give him a four round-total of 307 and a tie for 41st place.

    Third up for UCSD was sophomore Ryo Yamada, who finished in a tie for 66th place. Yamada started strong with a 77 on May 12 and a 75 on May 13, but faltered some on May 14 and May 15, turning in two straight 81s to bring his total to 314.

    “Man, the course was playing tough,” Yamda said. “I think we got beat because we didn’t know the greens. They’re completely different from West Coast greens, and we just couldn’t get used to them with our putting. We didn’t bring our best game, but the scores were not indicative of how we played; the elements, including the grass and a downpour on May 15, really got to us.”

    Scheer who, like Dolby, was riding an eighth-place finish at regionals, came in fourth for the Tritons. Despite a rocky start on May 12 with an 80, Scheer turned in the lone par for UCSD on May 13 and looked as if he had found his groove.

    “In the second round, I really managed to keep the ball in play,” Scheer said. “I didn’t have any confidence playing with a foreign club, and it spread to my whole game; I wasn’t able to make anything.”

    However, in light of his driver problems, Scheer managed to turn in the very respectable scores of 83 and 82 on May 14 and May 15, respectively, to finish with a 317. This earned him a tie for 74th place.

    “The course was awesome,” Scheer said. “It got a little rainy on May 15, but nothing too bad. All in all it was a great week and lots of fun. From here I’m hoping to quality for U.S. Amateurs again this summer, and I’ll also be competing in the San Diego Amateurs.”

    Rounding things out for UCSD was sophomore Justin Grant, who missed Regionals due to a bout with vertigo. Grant posted rounds of 82, 80, 77 and 82 across the four days. He finished with a four-round final score of 321, which earned him a tie for 85th place overall.

    “We don’t see [Bermuda grass] much, so it was very hard to get a read on the greens,” Grant said. “It was hard to finish like this, considering how well we’ve played all year; this was not indicative of our season. Even still, this was a lot of fun and a great learning experience, and I think it will make us a better team for next year. Personally, I was hitting the ball pretty well, but my short game was off, and I was having to take a lot of putts.”

    This has been one of UCSD’s best golf teams in years, and while Scheer will be missed, the Tritons hope to compete deep into postseason play again next season.

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