May 22, 2009

BLAINE, Wash. - Sonoma State caught Cal State San Bernardino on the 72nd hole of the 2009 NCAA Division II Golf Championship Friday and then beat the Coyotes in a one-hole playoff to capture its first national golf championship.

The Coyotes saw their eight-stroke lead entering the final round slowly evaporate until it got down to one stroke and the Seawolves' Patrick Bauer pulled his team into a tie despite a bogey at 18 because CSUSB's Gene Webster double-bogeyed the last.

It was a win-win for the California Collegiate Athletic Association which had its two top golf teams finish 1-2 in the national tournament. It was the first D-2 national title for a CCAA golf team in 35 years dating back to 1974 when Cal State Northridge won the tournament. It was the first win by a California school since UC Davis won it in 1979.

Cal State San Bernardino came so close to winning what would have been the first national team title in the 25-year history of intercollegiate athletics at the university but couldn't hold off the late charge by the Seawolves, the two-time CCAA conference champs.

To their credit, the Coyotes' second-place finish was the team's best effort in 13 trips to the national championship tournament going back to 1986 when the program was in Division III. CSUSB finished third in 1988, 1997 and 1998; fourth in 1987 and 1990 and fifth in 1991 giving the program seven top five finishes.

Webster, who led the tournament's 108 players from day one, still had a one-shot lead over the field going to the final hole, but his double-bogey six dropped him into a tie for third place as he tried to emulate CSUSB all-American Scott Householder who won medalist honors for the Coyotes at the 1997 D-2 championship in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Perhaps feeling the pressure of being in front during the final 18 holes, the Coyotes shot an even 300 for the 18 holes, their worst score of the four-day tournament while Sonoma State was nine shots better at 291.

It was an old-fashioned head-to-head matchup with Sonoma players paired with Coyotes players for the final round and the drama was enhanced by Webster and Bauer battling it out over the final two holes to determine the outcome since their teammates had already finished.

Webster, who led all tournament players in birdies in the tournament with 14, finished with a six-over-par 77.

Senior Micah Burke, playing the final tournament of his collegiate career, shot a two-over par 73 to tie for ninth place. Burke was even par through nine holes but bogeyed three holes coming in. His steady golf over the four days produced 52 pars, third most by any player in the event.

Junior Joe Alldis also played well until the treacherous 462-yard, par-4 17th hole that claimed many a golfer during the event. Aldis was even par at nine holes and was just two over with two holes to go, but double-bogeyed 17 for a 75 and a 14th-place finish.

Junior Thomas Chu shot his third round of 77 in the tournament and finished in 49th spot at 304. Sophomore Kenny Pigman started out wretchedly with two bogeys and a double bogey but regained control and played even par the rest of the round en route to a 75. He, too, bogeyed 17 coming in.