A final round score of 4-under 68 was more than enough for UC Riverside’s Matt Lutz to secure a spot in the NCAA Championships after finishing the NCAA Tucson Regional on the Gallery Golf Club in Marana, Ariz., with the third-best score of 209. The top five teams and the top individual not on a top five team advance to the NCAA Championships May 27-June 1 at Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Ore., and Lutz’s stellar performance was the best of the non-advancing teams.
The Placentia, Calif., native, opened the three-day event with a blistering 6-under 66 which turned out to be the low-round score of the tournament. He struggled on day two and posted a 3-over 75, which dropped him from the top spot to tied for fifth. He maintained his composure and on the final day carded a 4-under 68 to move to the third spot on the leaderboard to secure the regional’s lone individual spot in the NCAA Championship.
Lutz’s final round included five birdies and just one bogey on hole 16. Lutz becomes the first Big West men’s golfer to advance to the NCAA Championships as an individual since Cal Poly’s Geoff Gonzalez and UC Davis’ Matt Hansen did so in 2011. It also marked the best performance by a Highlander in the NCAA Regionals, besting Brandon Hillpot’s 11th place finish at Cross Water Creek in 2005.
As a team, the Highlanders shot their best team round of the tournament on day three with a seven-under par 281 to finish sixth with a total of 866, just three shots shy of advancing to the NCAA Championships with a top-5 team finish. The Highlanders also established a new top finish in the NCAA Regionals for the program since joining the Big West with their sixth place result. Hillpot’s 2005 team finished achieved the previous mark with 14th place showing.
No. 1-ranked Stanford dominated the 14-team field, firing a 31-under team total of 833. Oregon finished second after carding 17-under 847 and UAB placed third with a score of 857. The final two teams advancing to the NCAA Championships were California (862) and Wake Forest (863).
UC Riverside's Michael Wong carded his best round of the tournament on the final day with a 2-under 70, giving him a three-day score of 220 to finish tied for 33rd. Sam Gillis was two strokes back and tied for 40th, while Andrew Spilman placed 47th after tallying 224. Brandon Tsujimoto rounded out the five-man team in a tie for 50th with a 54-hole total of 225.
Competing as an individual, UC Santa Barbara sophomore Brandon Bauman shot a 2-over par 74 in final round to finish tied for 33rd in the 74-player field. The Las Vegas, Nev., native finished the tournament with a three-round score of 220, 4-over par. Bauman was one of five players bunched in the 33rd position, one shot back of a the 26th spot. He was tied for the second best score among individual invitees to the tournament. Bauman started on the 10th hole and shot a 2-over 38 over his first nine holes before settling in and carding an even-par 36 over his final nine. In all, he had four birdies on the day as he completed one of the most successful seasons in UCSB history.
Long Beach State senior Daniel Chian, who earned a berth into the postseason as an individual, carded 3-over 75 in his final collegiate round for a three-day total of 223 to finish tied for 44th. He opened the day, on hole 10, with a double bogey but quickly righted the ship with an eagle on the next hole. He would go on to finish the first nine 1-under par after correcting his two bogeys with a birdie and an eagle. A triple bogey and bogey down the stretch elevated him to a 3-over score. Chian was the first LBSU men’s golfer to qualify for the NCAA Tournament as an individual since 2006, when former 49er Ryan Wood advanced to regional play.
The other five regional sites included Tuscaloosa, Ala., Kohler, Wis., Albuquerque, N.M., Stillwater, Okla., and Nashville, Tenn.
NCAA Tucson Regional
Marana, Ariz. (hosted by Arizona)
The Gallery at Dove Mountain
Par: 72, Yardage: 7258
May 16-18, 2016
1. Stanford - 274-284-275=833
2. Oregon - 285-288-274=847
3. UAB - 283-291-283=857
4. California - 287-293-282=862
5. Wake Forest - 286-295-282=863
6. UC Riverside - 288-297-281=866
T7. North Florida - 293-283-291=867
T7. Georgia Tech - 297-288-282=867
9. Saint Mary’s - 291-307-281=879
10. North Texas - 296-301-290=887
11. Georgia State - 303-294-294=891
12. Louisiana Tech - 301-304-292=897
13. North Carolina - 310-312-295=917
14. Siena College - 311-325-315=951