Seeded No. 1 going into the Big West Conference tournament April 24 and 25 at the Tijeras Creek Golf Club in Rancho Santa Margarita, the UC Irvine Men’s Golf team was unable to overcome a 12-stroke deficit to third-seeded Cal Poly after the first two rounds, finishing the three-round tournament in second place behind the Mustangs.
‘[Cal Poly] simply played better each round,’ said UCI Head Coach Paul Smolinski. ‘They beat us by six shots in each of the first two rounds and we just never put any pressure on them.’
Long Beach State, paced by Ryan Panichpakdee’s course record 10-under par 62, made a run at the title in the third round and finished in third place, four strokes behind UCI.
Smolinski was disappointed by the team’s second-place finish, given the team’s relative success against the other teams in the conference. ‘I am not satisfied [with the second-place finish] because we had a 4-0 record [77-shot advantage] against Cal Poly this season.’
‘So for them to beat us by 15 shots is a bit of a shock,’ he added. ‘The bottom line is, we needed to play better as a team to win the championship and we just did not get it done.’
UCI’s top individual performers were sophomore Derek Uyesaka, who shot a 2-under par total of 214 (69-73-72)