The UCSB golf team is now only one day away from hoisting the Big West trophy after taking over the conference tournament today carding 9-under par 279 to take a six-stroke lead heading into tomorrow’s final round in an attempt to win its first league championship since 1998.
“A six-stroke lead is great, but what’s more important is that all five of our guys are playing well,” Head Coach Steve Lass said.
Santa Barbara came into the day tied with both Cal Poly and Long Beach State at 6-under 282, but the only the Gauchos were able to outshine their performance from the last day with the Mustangs only carding 3-under 285 and LBSU now tied for third with CSUN after carding 1-under par 287.
Early in the day, the Gauchos struggles were evident as they once fell behind by five strokes dropping them to as low as fourth place in the tournament. However, Santa Barbara turned it around and took a lead as high as nine strokes once it finally settled down.
“I was a little concerned early, but this team has been pretty resilient all year and I don’t think any of them panicked so I wasn’t going to either,” Lass said.
As it stands, UCSB is 15-under par 561 with CP sitting at second place at 9-under par 567 and Cal State Northridge and Long Beach State round out the top three with a 7-under par 569.
UCSB received yet another big performance from sophomore Nick Swanson who followed up his 3-under par performance in the first round with the same line on Tuesday.
The sophomore is currently tied for third in the individual title, dropping one spot after a solid day from LBSU’s redshirt sophomore Joe Fryer who carded 6-under par today to jump eight spots. CSUN’s junior Felix Mory still leads the individual with an overall 8-under par.
Junior Zach Smith was also huge for the Gauchos today, converting an Eagle on the par-5 13th hole. Six players have now Eagled on that hole. Smith finished the day carding 3-under to now stand at 4-under overall and is currently in fifth place in the individual jumping up five spots.
Last years’ champion of the individual tournament, junior Brandon Bauman, also continued his solid stretch carding 3-under as well to be at 5-under overall and hold the fourth rank down after the second round of the tournament.
Brett Bennett jumped up two spots and is now tied for 15th in the individual after again carding even par. The freshman also Eagled on par-5 fifth hole and is one of 11 golfers to do so in this tournament. Rounding out the team, Willy Moffly continues his share of struggles again carding over par today, however, the junior will look to turn it around in the final stretch tomorrow.
Now one day away from celebrating a tournament championship, the Gauchos are in prime position to take home the trophy back to Santa Barbara in nearly 20 years. Along with that, UCSB would also receive the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament allowing them to continue what has been a successful year.
Despite all this being in sight, UCSB is aware it must stay in control and card well tomorrow before it can celebrate anything.
“I’ll try to help them stay loose in the morning, but the good thing they have won four tournaments this year so its not like we are in uncharted territory,” Lass said.
The Big West tournament will conclude today with the first tee off beginning at 7:30 a.m. Santa Barbara will tee off at approximately 8:20 a.m.