SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Santa Clara men's golf team had three top-10 finishes in the fall despite losing No. 1 player from last season and injuries to key performers.
The Broncos concluded their fall season at the Saint Mary's Invitational in early November. The team also competed in the Showdown in the Rockies, the Inverness Intercollegiate, and the Alister MacKenzie Invitational where it finished among the top six in each event.
Hayden Shieh, a four-time NCAA qualifier, graduated in the spring leaving a hole at the top of the lineup. The Broncos looked to senior Derek Ackerman and junior Matt McCarty to fill the void. Ackerman competed in the U.S. Amateur Championship over the summer and McCarty led the way for the Broncos throughout the fall season.
"We kind of went into the year with a lot of unknowns, some positive and some negative things to look forward to. Obviously, the negative being losing our number one player (Hayden Shieh)," Miller said.
The team finished the Showdown in the Rockies tied for sixth place with Boise State. McCarty led the way at 7-under 209 total, securing his seventh career top-10 finish. McCarty carried the team the rest of the season with three top-10 finishes. As the No. 1 player, McCarty also held the team-best 70.09 stroke average.
"One of the positives is that Matt McCarty has played very well," said Miller. "He's been a very strong number one player for us. He's gone from a No. 2 spot last year to the number one, really taking on the responsibility of being a No. 1 player which requires you to be consistent and provide low numbers, which he has done."
In September, the Broncos competed in the 14th annual Iverness Intercollegiate where they finished in fourth place.
The Alister MacKenzie Invitational came next in October. Santa Clara finished in fifth place.
Injuries played a role in the team's outcome at the Saint Mary's Invitational. The Broncos rallied from a first round that put them at the bottom of the pack. Scoring a 294 in their final round, bumped them up finding themselves finishing in 14th-place. McCarty played through a lingering back injury and completed the final 36 holes.
Despite only placing in the top 20 once in the fall, Miller is optimistic that Ackerman will bounce back. "He really wants to finish strong. He's hoping to get back to regionals like we did last year," Miller said. "I think he's really focused on trying to finish strong and that bodes well for us for the spring."
The Broncos will start its six-tournament spring season beginning in February at the UC Irvine Invitational. Miller is pointing to this tournament, as well as the USF Invitational and the Stanford Intercollegiate, as crucial events in an effort to make back-to-back NCAA appearances due to their caliber of top-ranked participants.
In preparation for the season, Miller plans to "take it one step at a time and try to get geared up for that," in hopes for a successful spring season.