April 17, 2006
COPPEROPOLIS, Calif. - The sun wasn't the only searing ball of fire to shine on Saddle Creek Golf Course Monday as the Santa Clara University golf teams rode some white-hot shooting to stellar performances in the first two rounds of the WCC Championships. The SCU men fired their way to second place Monday and are in the hunt to make history as the first Bronco squad to qualify for NCAA Regionals, while the women rode a consistent performance to third place and are within striking range of second.
The teams will return to the par-72, 5,823-yard course tomorrow morning for the third and final round from Copperopolis. Santa Clara will be looking to make a run for not only its first WCC title since 1998 but also for the automatic berth to the NCAA West Regionals, a feat no Bronco golf squad has ever accomplished.
On the men's side, senior Michael Nicoletti leads the individual competition after 36 holes with a one-under 143. Nicoletti, starting on the back nine in the first round, shot even par before heating up, firing three birdies against only one bogey to finish the round two-under and tied the lead with Portland's Matt Jacobsen.
The Dos Palos native stayed hot in the second round, notching birdies on three of the first five holes against one bogey to get to four-under for the tournament. Nicoletti stayed there for the rest of the round, heading into the clubhouse with the advantage.
As a team the SCU men followed Nicoletti's lead as Eric Lillibridge is tied for third place with a two-round score of 145 (+1). Tim Lynch is tied for 15th at 150 (+6) and John Colyar is one stroke behind Lynch. Jong Yoon rounded out the quintet with a two-round total of 153.
Loyola Marymount leads the team competition with a score of 585, while the Broncos are three back of the pace. San Francisco is also in the hunt, on the Broncos' heels at 590.
For the Santa Clara women, a strong start got them entrenched in third place where they held firm the rest of the day. Megan Stoddart and Samantha Trask's top-ten performances did much of the damage for the Broncos as Stoddart fired rounds of 78 and 76 for a total of 154 which has her sitting in a tie for eighth while Trask, who hit an astonishing 34 of 36 fairways in play Monday, carded a 157 that has her in tenth place and aiming for a second-straight All-WCC performance.
"Out here it required a lot of up-and-downs, and Samantha did a great job being consistent in the fairways," said women's head coach Polly Schulze. "The performances of Samantha and Megan give confidence to the rest of the team and we hope they can maintain those top-ten spots tomorrow."
Jenny Nelson, Candice Palmer and Corey Utsurogi all provided consistent play as the women ended the first round only eleven strokes back of second-place San Francisco. In the second round, Nelson and Palmer shot matching 82s to help the Broncos remain in third place, still within reach of the Dons.
"The consistency between the rounds was good today," Schulze added. "We haven't played a 36-hole round since November, so for them to be able to hold it together in the second round, an 11-hour day, it showed that we are working very hard on our mental toughness.
Pepperdine holds a commanding 27-stroke lead over San Francisco heading into the final round and is all but assured to capture its fifth-straight WCC title. The Waves also boast the tournament's leader after Monday in Jayvie Agojo's two-over 146, followed by San Francisco's Jessica Potter who is three strokes off the pace.