SANTA CLARA, Calif. - History was made Monday afternoon as the No. 62 Santa Clara University men's golf team learned that the most successful season in school history would continue with the team's first-ever berth in the NCAA West Regionals. The Broncos were named the 17th seed in the 27-team West Regional, which is set to take place May 18-20 at the Omni Tucson National Golf Resort and Spa in Tucson, Ariz.
"The players on the team are proud to have the opportunity to represent Santa Clara in the regional competition and are focused on performing well to reach the nationals," said first-year head coach Rob Miller. "The team's strength is its depth. They know that they have yet to put together their best performance and are looking forward to putting it all together at regionals and nationals."
Hosted by the University of Arizona, the Omni Tucson National features a pair of 18-hole PGA Championship courses in the 7,262-yard, Par-73 Catalina Course and the 6,552-yard, Par-70 Sonoran Course. Selected as one of Golf Digest's "75 Best Golf Resorts in North America," the Omni serves as the home of the PGA Tour's Chrysler Classic of Tucson. The 232 acres covering the two courses features 10 lakes and 188 strategically-placed bunkers.
The top 10 teams in addition to two individual players not on an advancing team in each of the three regionals will advance to the NCAA Championships, to take place May 31-June 3 in Portland, Ore.
The team finished its regular season with a strong third-place performance at the West Coast Conference Championships in mid-April. Following the tournament Miller was named WCC Co-Coach of the Year while senior Michael Nicoletti earned first-team All-WCC honors and fellow senior John Colyar, junior Eric Lillibridge and sophomore Tim Lynch all were named All-WCC Honorable Mention performers.
"Coaching these guys has been a joy. They work so hard, it has made me want to do everything possible to help them succeed," Miller added before also crediting a member of his staff. "Player development Director Bill Johnson has been invaluable helping all the players improve in every aspect of the game."
Miller was named head coach this past summer and did not meet the team until they began fall practice 12 days before their first tournament in September. Under Miller's tutelage, the Broncos shocked the 14-team field at the Purple and Red Invitational in Utah for their first title outside of the Bay Area since 1999.
The season hasn't slowed down since, as the Broncos, paced by the quintet of seniors Colyar and Nicoletti, juniors Lillibridge and Jong Yoon, and sophomore Lynch, captured three more titles as well as a pair of runner-up finishes and three more top-five placements the rest of the way.
Nicoletti leads the team with a per-round average of 73.29 and six individual top-five finishes, including runner-up efforts at the Boise State Bronco Invitational and Rice Intercollegiate, tournaments in which SCU won the team title, and a third-place finish at the West Coast Conference Championships. Colyar's 74.54 per-round average and two top-ten finishes also helped lead Santa Clara on the links.
"The captains and graduating seniors, John Colyar and Mike Nicoletti, have done a great job setting an example for the younger players," Miller said of his captains. "They work hard, have fun together and represent the school with dignity. They have set the bar high for everyone."
Lillibridge (74.24 average), Yoon (74.61) and Lynch (75.62) have been steady contributors for Santa Clara, grinding away in each tournament and helping the Broncos to nine top-five finishes in the ten tournaments they played in 2005-06. Miller is quick to note the solid chemistry between his golfers that has been a part of their success this season and should lead to more in the coming years.
"The future is very bright for our program," Miller continued. "Support from the student body, the athletic department, the alumni and the golf community has been overwhelming and we expect to continue to compete at the highest level."