California wins NIT by 15 strokes, Iowa State's Fernandez individual leader
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Cal (292-279-285 – 856, -8) cruised to its second consecutive victory and fourth in eight events this season to defend its title at the National Invitational Tournament, winning the event by 15 strokes for the second consecutive season.
Scott Fernandez of Iowa State (70-66-69 – 205, -11) won the event by seven strokes.
KK Limbhasut (75-67-71 – 213, -3) finished alone in fourth place to lead four Golden Bears in the top 20 at the event hosted by Arizona at OMNI Tucson National’s Catalina Course.
Cal had the best round of the day and was one of only two teams under par Monday to complete a turnaround that saw the Bears nine strokes off the lead and tied for fifth place after Saturday’s opening round. The Bears started their comeback Sunday and began the third and final round with a slim two-stroke lead over second-place finisher New Mexico (296-277-298 – 871, +7)
“We played some great golf yesterday, and we played even better today,” head coach Steve Desimone said. “I can’t say enough great things about the guys.”
“We got off to a really good start today and were able to just keep adding on,” Desimone added. “When the rains came and the winds kicked up on the last few holes we did what we needed to do to win. I’m really proud of our players.”
Limbhasut was three-under par through the first 16 holes Monday with birdies on the par-five second and 15th holes, and the par-four sixth before making bogeys on the par-three 17th and par-four 18th in the difficult weather.
“We got off to a great start on the front nine and separated ourselves from everyone,” Limbhasut said. “Things got tougher on the back nine, but we all played smart and stayed patient. Individually, this is a great confidence booster for me going into big tournaments before the conference championship.”
Sebastian Crampton (71-71-73 – 215, -1) finished two strokes behind Limbhasut in a tie for sixth place. Crampton was three-under par through 13 holes after birdies on a pair of par-fives (2, 10) and the par-three 10th but gave four strokes back with bogeys on the par-four 14th and 18th, and a double bogey on the par-five 15th.
“I played well for 54 holes in tough weather but had a few tough holes late in my round each day that cost me a lot of shots that I’m not happy about,” Crampton said. “I will absolutely be looking to fix a few bugs as I get ready for Southern Highlands.”
Crampton’s top-10 finish was his team-leading fifth in his six events this season, while Limbhasut has been in the top five three times and the top 15 on five occasions.
Alexander Wilson (74-75-69 – 218, +2) had the best round of the day for the Bears and his best collegiate round with a three-under par effort that moved him up 29 spots into a tie for 17th that was the best finish of his career. Wilson had six birdies including one of only two on the day on the par-four 18th hole. His others came on three of the course’s four par-fives (2, 10, 15), the par-four fifth and the par-three 12th. His three bogeys were on the par-four 11th and 14th holes, and the par-three 17th. On all three occasions he followed his bogeys with a birdie.
“Alexander got off to a good start and it seemed like every time he made a bogey on the back nine he answered with a birdie,” Desimone said. “His birdie on 18 was incredible because that hole was playing nearly impossible today. He’s growing as a player and gaining confidence. It’s good to see.”
Shotaro Ban (76-70-72 – 218, +2) also tied for 17th place, moving up 10 spots from where he started the day after a wild up-and-down even-par round that included six birdies (1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16) and six bogeys (3, 5, 6, 7, 14, 18).
Cameron Shaw (72-71-76 – 219, +3) was able to stay in the top 20 despite dropping eight spots into a tie for 20th following his four-over par round consisting of a pair of birdies (6, 15) and six bogeys (9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 18) including five in a row at one point.
Ben Doyle (77-73-76 – 226, +10) tied for 48th playing as an individual.
Cal will next be in action March 9-11 in its final event before spring break at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters hosted by UNLV. All five players in the Cal lineup will be playing the event for the first time.
“We’re very confident but our lack of experience at Southern Highlands could be a huge factor,” Desimone said. “This event is unlike any other. The closest thing to it is the NCAA Championship. There will be a great field playing on a great course, and there’s just no let up. We’re going to have to play well, but it will be good because our guys need to learn how to play the golf course. We’re ready for and have been building for this. It’s going to be an interesting few days next week.”
“Two consecutive team wins definitely helps our confidence moving forward to our biggest regular-season event of the year,” Crampton added.
|2015 NATIONAL INVITAIONAL TOURNAMENT|
|1||California||-8||1||Scott Fernandez||Iowa State||-11|
|2||New Mexico||+7||T2||George Cunningham||Arizona||-4|
|3||Santa Clara||+9||T2||Xander Schauffele||San Diego State||-4|
|5||Iowa State||+11||5||Gavin Green||New Mexico||-2|
|6||San Diego State||+15||T6||Chelso Barrett||New Mexico||-1|
|8||San Diego||+17||T6||Sean Romero||Colorado State||-1|
|9||Saint Mary's (CA)||+24||T6||Patrick Winther||TCU||-1|
|T10||Colorado State||+26||T10||Jere Pelletier||San Diego State||E|
|T10||New Mexico State||+26||T10||Nahum Mendoza III||UTEP||E|