The UCSD men’s golf team wrapped up its season Wednesday, May 7 in its third consecutive NCAA South Central/West Regional Tournament appearance, placing 16th of 20 schools in the three-day tournament at Grey Rock Golf Club in Austin, Texas.
Shooting for a spot in the top six places in order to qualify for nationals, the Tritons were tied at sixth early in round one but failed to maintain their standing as they dropped to 11th at the end of the day. Sophomore Daniel Yang had the best first-round performance of UCSD’s lineup, hitting a 74, two strokes over par, highlighted by a chip from behind the green to eagle the 17th hole.
The Tritons improved by eight strokes during day two. Senior Lewis Simon was the only Triton to score under par, hitting a 71 on the par-72 course, allowing the Tritons to climb up to the eighth spot at the end of round two.
The final round was disappointing for the Tritons as they hit a team total of 317, 20 strokes behind their round two total. UCSD’s 317 was the highest score of its round and the second highest of all three days, only behind St. Mary College’s first-round score of 323. The Tritons fell to 16th and were ultimately disqualified from the National Championships.
“We were right in it with nine holes left,” junior Jay Lim said. “We were never in that situation before, so it was a really good experience to know how it was like. [At] the end, we just fell apart a little bit, collectively.”
UCSD head coach Jim Ragan noted that having such a young team played a large role in the third round’s collapse.
“There were a number of factors, but I think inexperience was one, so I think we can grow from that,” Ragan said. ”We were playing good enough to get one of those late-tee times along with the leading teams, and we just didn’t handle the wind very well.”
Yang was the top finisher for UCSD, placing 32nd out of 108 individuals and hitting a 227, 11 over par. Following closely behind was Lewis and sophomore Clayton Yamaguchi, both of whom finished 42nd, swinging 13 over par. To round off the lineup, sophomore Jeff Roseth tied for 96th while Lim finished tying for 104th.
The incredibly competitive South Central/West Region includes seven of the nation’s top 25 teams. No. 18 St. Edward’s University took first place, while California Collegiate Athletic Association squads No. 5 Chico State and No. 3 Cal State Monterey Bay finished second and fourth, respectively.
With four of the five players who competed in Regionals returning next year, the Tritons look toward the coming seasons with optimism.
“They’re used to being here [now],” Ragan said. “Second time around with us being in the mix to advance, they see what it’s like. At least they saw what you had to do in the final round to actually push through [and] make it through, and I know that will help us out in the future.”
The Regional Tournament capped off a solid, albeit inconsistent, season for the Tritons. After starting the season off strong, UCSD hit a midseason slump but ended on a high note with a third-place finish at the CCAA championships. Despite the on-and-off season, UCSD has gained newfound confidence for next season.
“We have the talent to compete,” Lim said. “I think we’re far better than what it says on paper, and I think that’s definitely a confidence booster moving onto next year. No matter what the numbers say, I think we definitely have a great shot at winning the national title next year.”