TUCSON, Ariz. — San Diego State earned its second consecutive Mountain West Conference championship on Sunday with a five-stroke victory ahead of second-place TCU at the par-71, 7,144-yard OMNI Tucson National Golf Resort. The 14th-ranked Aztecs logged a final-round 286 to give them a three-day total of 8-under 844 and allowed them to become the first school to earn back-to-back MW titles since 2005-06.
SDSU led at the end of all three rounds in a tournament that featured four teams ranked in the top 45 nationally. The Aztecs were up by just a single stroke after 18 holes on Friday and pushed that to a five-stroke advantage after day two, which is also the margin they eventually ended up winning by. The squad has now finished in the top two at the Mountain West Conference championships four consecutive seasons and its 54-hole score of 844 matches as its best at this event. San Diego State has finished first in each of its last four trips to OMNI Tucson National, winning the 2012 National Invitational Tournament in mid-March and also earning titles at the NCAA West Regional and Mountain West championship in 2011.
All five Aztec golfers finished in the top 17 on the individual leaderboard, including three in the top 10. Senior Alex Kang and junior Tom Berry were the co-leaders through 36 holes, but dropped back to fourth and fifth place respectively after both carding their highest rounds of the event.
Kang’s fourth-place performance was his third in the top 10 in three career appearances at the conference tournament, as he finished third a year ago and tied for seventh as a freshman in 2009. He logged 14 total birdies in the 54 holes this weekend, which were the most by anyone in the 40-golfer field, and ended up at 3-under 210, including a final-round 73. Kang has now been in the top five on five occasions in 2011-12, and has placed in the top 10 six times in 13 total events.
Berry, meanwhile, was just one stroke behind Kang at 2-under 211, registering a 74 over the final 18 holes with 13 pars, four bogeys and one birdie on the par-5 eighth hole. The junior has six top-20 finishes on the year and has been one of the team’s top three golfers at four consecutive tournaments. Berry was 31st on the same course a year ago and came in third as a freshman in 2010.
SDSU’s third player in the top 10 was senior J.J. Spaun, who tied for ninth with a 212, following his second 1-under 70. Spaun earned pars on his first three holes and then reeled off three consecutive birdies and finished the front nine at 2-under. He then sandwiched two birdies with two bogeys and completed the round with four pars and a bogey. Spaun has seven top-10 performances in the Aztecs’ nine spring tournaments in 2012 and has been in the top nine at the Mountain West Conference championships four consecutive seasons.
Both of the squad’s final two players, seniors Matt Hoffenberg and Colin Featherstone, moved up the individual leaderboard for the second day in a row. Hoffenberg carded his second consecutive 1-under 70, going 2-under par through his final 14 holes for a final 213 to land him in 12th place. Featherstone started the morning with eight consecutive pars which helped him improve by one spot from 18th into a tie for 17th at 4-over 217, including a final-round 73.