STOCKTON, Calif. – Three Santa Clara players had a final round score in the 60s and the Bronco men's golf team fired a tournament-low round of 17-under-par 267 to claim second place at the SCVB Pacific Invitational, which concluded today at the Stockton Golf & Country Club.
After scores of 284 and 282, the Broncos entered today's final round in fourth place, 20 strokes behind leader BYU, but they whittled 13 shots off that deficit and leapfrogged both UC Davis and West Coast Conference foe Saint Mary's to claim their highest finish of the season and best placement since winning the six-count-five Long Beach State Del Walker Invitational on March 8, 2011.
BYU, 43rd in the most recent Golfweek.com rankings, was able to maintain the large lead they built after the first two days and won the event by shooting an 826 total, seven shots better than Santa Clara.
"BYU played too good the first two days and we couldn't catch up," said head coach Rob Miller. "But we did make it interesting. Twenty shots is a bit much to overcome."
Sophomore Carlos Briones shot a career-low 7-under-par 64 and missed a top-10 finish by a single shot, ending in a tie for 11th place with Kansas State's Daniel Wood with a 209 (-4). Briones started the final round with a birdie and carded an eagle-3 on the second hole to get off to a hot start. He did not score over par on any of the final 18 holes. "I was putting really well today," he said. "The greens were fast and it suited my game."
His final round score was the second-lowest round of the tournament and the lowest single-round score by a Santa Clara player since Martin Keskari also shot a 64 at the same event last year.
Senior Scott Lowe was the top individual finisher for the Broncos ending in a tie for fifth-place after a final round 4-under 67, matching his career-low round. He shot a 69 (-2) yesterday and a first round 71 (E) to finish at 6-under, seven shots behind winner Joe Parkinson of BYU, who led wire-to-wire.
"I played well, had good control and hit a lot of greens," Lowe said. "I putted poorly the first round but got better. I was striking the ball really well and keeping it in the fairway."
With a pair of eagles on the back-nine today, freshman Tyler Kertson had his finest round as a Bronco with a 6-under 65 and finished tied for 13th at 3-under 210. He played the back nine at 5-under with an eagle-3 on both the 14th and 16th holes. "I normally play long and accurate," Kertson said. "This course is tight and long and I was able to drive the ball far and keep it in the fairway and make my 15 foot putts."
"Tyler had a heck of a back-nine," Miller noted. "He hits the ball a long way."
With an eagle-3 on the second hole yesterday, Kertson topped the field with three eagles and played the par-5 holes at a tournament-best 11-under.
"I don't know what they ate last night," Miller joked about his squad's stellar third round play.
Gio Gandionco shot an even-par 71 today and finished in a tie for 25th with a 1-over 214. After a career-low round of 69 yesterday, Evan McLeod scored a 76 today and tied for 30th at 3-over 216.
Coach Miller was more than pleased with his team's performance. "Ty and Carlos both went off today," he said. "Everybody had their moments today and you need that to finish for the hardware. It was nice to see the guys put it all together for a tournament. We've had one or two guys play well, but we had major contributions from everybody here this week."
"It's kind of bittersweet," Lowe said about ending the fall season with such an impressive showing. "We have momentum and would like to continue playing, but it is a nice way to end our season."
The Broncos bested three teams, UC Davis (50), Charlotte (58) and Saint Mary's (89) that were ranked in the Golfweek.com top-100, and two others, Kansas State (103) and Nevada (104), that were on the fringe. "We know we have talent and can play at this level," Briones added about his team's finish. "We believe in each other."
The spring season can't come soon enough for the Broncos, but they will have to wait until February 8 when they tee it up at The Farms Collegiate Invitational in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.
SCVB Pacific Invitational Final Team Standings
1. Brigham Young 277-269-280 = 826 (-26)
2. Santa Clara 284-282-267 = 833 (-19)
3. UC Davis 284-281-274 = 839 (-13)
4. Long Beach State 287-281-275 = 843 (-9)
5. Saint Mary's (CA) 289-273-282 = 844 (-8)
T6. Charlotte 284-288-281 = 853 (+1)
T6. Pacific 295-276-282 = 853 (+1)
T6. Denver 291-281-281 = 853 (+1)
9. Kansas State 288-281-286 = 855 (+3)
10. Nevada 286-283-289 = 858 (+6)
11. Fresno State 301-289-294 = 884 (+32)
12. Army 302-299-288 = 889 (+37)
Santa Clara Final Individual Results
T5. Scott Lowe 71-69-67 = 207 (-6)
T11. Carlos Briones 71-74-64 = 209 (-4)
T13. Tyler Kertson 73-72-65 = 210 (-3)
T25. Gio Gandionco 71-72-71 = 214 (+1)
T30. Evan McLeod 71-69-76 = 216 (+3)