Having claimed four tournament titles this season, the UCSB golf team will hope to finish off their season strong with a Big West title especially since it is the host of this year’s festivities which will be held at the Sandpiper Golf Course.
For the first time in program history, the Gauchos come into this tournament holding the No. 1 seed and is seeking its first conference title since 1998. In fact, the 1998 title is the Gauchos only golf Big West title in school history.
Since the turn of the century, Santa Barbara’s highest finish in this tournament was a third-place rank which was actually in last years tournament which saw UCR take home the title for its first time since 2005.
Being the top seed, the Gauchos certainly have the talent to attain its second Big West title in program history. Headlining the UCSB golf team is Zach Smith who has earned a pair of Big West Golfer of the Month awards. The junior has had five top-ten finishes, a career high for him in a single season, including him taking the individual title at the Wyoming Cowboy Classic, the first of his career.
Smith is coming off a successful 2016 campaign in which he was named All-Big West Second Team and is en route to winning the 2017 Big West Golfer of the Year thanks to his wonderful 2017 run.
Speaking of Big West Golfers of the Year, the Gauchos still have the 2016 recipient of that award in their arsenal as well. Brandon Bauman, a Las Vegas native, has had another strong campaign as he has had four top-ten finishes this year, including a top-ten rank in his last three matches.
Bauman enters the Big West Championship with a stroke average of 72.03, second on the team to Smith’s 71.97. The junior is also only the third player in school history to win the Big West Conference individual title when he shot a 4-under par 212 in the tournament last year.
The final three golfers of UCSB’s successful lineup this season consists of junior Willy Moffly, sophomore Nick Swanson and freshman Brett Bennett. Each of these golfers has enjoyed success this season as Moffly has two top-five finishes, four top ten.
Swanson has three top-ten finishes including his highest rank of the season, a sixth-place finish at the Bill Collum Invite. Swanson was also a Big West Golfer of the Month recipient during the month of November. Bennett, the youngest of the trio, also has three top-ten finishes and had a third place rank at the PRO compression Invite.
UCSB’s biggest competition will most likely be its green rival Cal Poly who enters the tournament with the No. 2 seed. CP and UCR are the only other teams in the Big West who claimed a tournament title this year with UCSB being the only team to take multiple titles.
The Big West Tournament will be hosted by UCSB this year and will begin on Monday, May 1, at 11:30 am. The Tournament will run through Wednesday, May 3 at the Sandpiper Golf Course with Tuesday’s activities beginning at 11:30 am and the final round conclusion beginning at 7:30 am.
Jorge Mercado is the current Editor in Chief and was a Sports Editor before that since freshman year. He prefers to be called Merk as that was his nickname given to him by the gods. Sometimes, his evil twin Mork appears. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.