SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Looking to build off last season's success that saw three team titles, two individual medalists and the second NCAA Regional appearance in the program's history, Santa Clara men's golf opens the 2018 season Monday at the 10-team Showdown in the Rockies, hosted by the University of Utah.
The Broncos lost just one player from last year's team, which was one of the best in school history. But the loss is major in three-time All-WCC and four-time NCAA Regional participant Hayden Shieh.
"We all know Hayden's gone," head coach Rob Miller said. "We are going to miss his ability to produce low, counting scores. He was a stabilizing force for our team."
Junior Matt McCarty will assume the team's No. 1 spot with senior Derek Ackerman playing at No. 2. Along with Shieh, they were the only Broncos to compete in all 12 events last season. McCarty won his first collegiate tournament at the Farms Invitational in February and his 71.19 stroke average placed him second on the squad behind Shieh.
Ackerman had three top-10 finishes and was a close third in stroke average at 71.78. The two were among 10 golfers named to the preseason All-WCC team.
"Matt and Derek are a year older and the experience they got last season and over the summer will only improve their game," Miller said.
A trio of sophomores will push the upperclassmen while looking to make their mark on the team. Zack Kaneshiro and Jack Avrit both played in 10 events last season, including the NCAA Regional. Kaneshiro compiled a 73.90 average last season while Avrit averaged 74.50 strokes per round. Avrit's season-low round came at the NCAA Regional when he posted a 65 over the opening 18 holes.
"We're not going to be good if we're not better down the lineup," Miller acknowledged. "There isn't going to be much room for error."
McCarty and Ackerman will anchor the squad for the season's maiden event with Kaneshiro, junior Will DelBiaggio and van Tilburg rounding out the team. The Broncos will compete for the team title on the 7,613-yard, par-72 Huntsman Springs Golf Course in Driggs, Idaho, along with host Utah, Arizona, Boise State, Colorado, Oregon State, Saint Mary's, Texas Tech, Utah State and Utah Valley.
"It's a strong field," Miller noted about the competition. "They were all good last season with half the teams making regionals."
The Broncos enjoyed a great start to last season, winning their opening event at The Jackrabbit and claiming two team victories in their first three with a runner-up finish in between.
"We'll see if we can get off to a good start like we did last year," Miller said. "We're not sneaking up on anyone this year."
Name: Showdown in the Rockies
Dates (Site): Monday-Tuesday, Sept. 17-18 (Driggs, Idaho)
Host: University of Utah
Tournament Field (10 Teams): Arizona, Boise State, Colorado, Oregon State, Santa Clara, Saint Mary's, Texas Tech, Utah, Utah State, Utah Valley.
Details: A total of 54 holes will be played over two days in a 5-count-4 scoring setup. Teams and individuals will tee off for the first of 36 holes on Monday at 6:30 a.m. PT. Tuesday's final round is scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. PT.
Course: Huntsman Springs Golf Course
Yardage/Par: 7,613 yards / Par 72
Course Website: www.huntsmansprings.com/golf
Live Scoring: www.golfstat.com