Western Intercollegiate: St. Mary's tops in tough field

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (March 27, 2008)--The No. 48 ranked Saint Mary's men's golf team overcame a 14-stroke deficit to post a one-shot victory over No. 23-ranked Michigan State and UC Irvine, capturing the team title at the 62nd Annual Western Intercollegiate golf tournament. SMC held off the Spartans and Anteaters over the final three holes at the Pasatiempo Golf Course to capture its first tournament title of the 2007-08 season.

"Those were brutally hard conditions, the course was impossibly set-up," said St. Mary's head coach Scott Hardy of the Alister MacKenzie-designed Pasatiempo Golf Club. "It played hard, firm and fast, so this was a really good first win for our team."

Saint Mary's posted rounds of 289-292-299 for a 54-hole total of 880 (+40) at the par-70, 6,511-yard track. SMC, ranked 48th in the GolfStat national rankings, began the final round 14 strokes behind Michigan State and caught the Spartans after nine holes. UC Irvine turned in the low team score of the final round, a 294, and led briefly during its final six holes before yielding the team championship to the Gaels. Saint Mary's and UC Irvine played their final three holes four-over par while Michigan State was one-over on its last three holes.

"The conditions were very difficult. My players were patient, able to hang in there and persevere when the course was playing really, really tough. It was easy to get frustrated and give up," said Hardy, himself an amateurgolf.com member who has been painfully close to qualifying for The Masters after a pair of lengthy runs in the U.S. Mid-Am. "To win against 11 teams ranked in the top-100 and on a great golf course is really special to us."

Michigan State's Jack Newman, a sophomore from Des Moines, Iowa, won for the first time this season and the second in his career with a final-round 78 for a four-over par 214 total. He finished two strokes ahead of Saint Mary's senior Mike McRae, the second-round leader. McRae and Newman were paired together after each player had sub-70's scores for the first two rounds, but neither could not muster a final round birdie. McRae had nine bogeys and one double-bogey en route to a final round 81. McRae posted rounds of 66 and 69 on Wednesday to hole a 1-shot lead over Newman heading into the final round. Hardy cited three birdies by Daniel Cone over his last four holes as one of the keys to the Gaels' triumph. Cone finished the final round with a 75, but had birdies on 15, 16 and 17 to help the Gaels to a 1-shot win over the Spartans and Anteaters. Cone finished tied for 21st overall with a 54-hole score of 224 (+14).

Chadd Cocco and Josh Kelley were tied with Cone for 21st place after the three rounds. After posting an opening round 77, Cocco responded with a second round 74 and then shot 73 on Thursday for the team's low round of the day. Kelley's five-over par 75 on Thursday, followed rounds of 73 and 76, respectively, on Wednesday.

Rounding out the Gaels' team scoring for the day was Robert McRae, who posted a six-over par 76. McRae had rounds of 78, 73 and 76 and finished tied for 36th place with a total of 228 (+28).

Richard Conlin and Hans Olson were playing as individuals and finished tied for 77th and 88th, respectively. Conlin had rounds of 75 and 76 yesterday, before posting a final round 85 to post a total score of 236 (+26). Olson had rounds of 86-85-86 for a 54-hole total of 257 (+47).

Kyle Moore of Northwestern was third at 217. Fresno State's Matt Ryan was the only player in the 90-player field to break par in the final round with a two-under 68 and was one of four tied for sixth at 220.

ABOUT THE Western Intercollegiate

54-hole men's college tournament hosted by San Jose State University. “The Western” is one of the most highly recognized national collegiate tournaments, conducted since 1946 Pasatiempo Golf Club; a historic venue where a player’s talent is always well-tested. Pasatiempo perennially ranks among the best by all of the major golf publications.

The format is slightly different than most college events. Six-player teams take the best five scores each round to determine the team score.

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