Planet Golf — 05 May 2017 by Jim Street
UW seeded fifth at NCAA Golf Regional

SEATTLE — The nation’s top-ranked men’s college golf team is coming to the Great Northwest next week to strut its top-dog ranking during the three-day NCAA Washington National Regional at Aldarra Golf Club in Sammamish, WA.

But another kind of dog, a Washington Husky, showed last week that it has plenty of bark — and perhaps even a bite or two — heading into the next-to-last tournament of the season.

The University of Southern California heads a list of 14 teams competing in the event that will be played May 15-17 on the 6,885-yard, par 71 course. The top five teams from each of the six regional sites and the top individual finisher not on an advancing team will advance to the National Championships, May 26-31 at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill.

The host-team UW Huskies, who are under the tutelage  of first-year head coach Alan Murray, are ranked No. 5 in the tournament and coming off a morale-boosting third-place finish in the Pac-12 Championships. The Huskies are looking to claim their fourth regional title in program history. UW finished one shot out of the NCAA final last season and have advanced to the Championships in 15 of the past 18 years.

Other competing teams are: Kent State , Texas A&M, Florida State, Alabama, San Diego State, UTEP, Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, Seattle University, Marquette and Bryant.

One thing the Huskies have going for them is home-course advantage. The team are members at the private Aldarra GC and regularly practice and play at the Tom Fazio-designed layout that tests even the lowest-handicap golfers that take it on.

“I think it’s a huge advantage,” Murray said. “It doesn’t hurt knowing a golf course as we’ll as we know (Aldarra). We feel it’s an advantage, but time will tell.”

Murray said his team is coming into the tournament playing some of its best golf of the season.

“We’re getting better as the year’s gone on and I think that’s what it’s all about,” he added. “It’s not how you start in this game, but how you finish. We feel that we’re in a good spot, being at home, and now it’s a matter of going out there and letting your clubs do the talking.”

The Huskies’ five-man lineup has yet to be finalized. Senior Corey Pereira, junior Frank Garber, and sophomores Carl Yuan and Henry Lee will be in the lineup, leaving three others competing for one opening during in-team qualifying.

“You’ll see a ton of great players here,” Murray said of the field. “All of the teams that are coming are excellent-program teams. They wouldn’t be here otherwise.”

Murray gave the NCAA golf officials a pat on the back.

“I think the Regional is one of the fairest tournaments of the year,” he said. “You just have to play well. It’s all about how you perform. I think guys well look for advantages and all that, but at the end of the day you just have to play well.”

And playing well enough to finish in the top five is what it’s all about at the Regional.

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Jim Street

Jim’s 40-year sportswriting career started with the San Jose Mercury-News in 1970 and ended on a full-time basis on October 31, 2010 following a 10-year stint with MLB.com. He grew up in Dorris, Calif., several long drives from the nearest golf course. His first tee shot was a week before being inducted into the Army in 1968. Upon his return from Vietnam, where he was a war correspondent for the 9th Infantry Division, Jim took up golf semi-seriously while working for the Mercury-News and covered numerous tournaments, including the U.S. Open in 1982, when Tom Watson made the shot of his life on the 17th hole at Pebble Beach. Jim also covered several Bing Crosby Pro-Am tournaments, the women’s U.S. Open, and other golfing events in the San Francisco area. He has a 17-handicap, made his first and only hole-in-one on March 12, 2018 at Sand Point Country Club in Seattle and witnessed the first round Ken Griffey Jr. ever played – at Arizona State during Spring Training in 1990. Pebble Beach Golf Links, the Kapalua Plantation Course, Pinehurst No. 2, Spyglass Hill, Winged Foot, Torrey Pines, Medinah, Chambers Bay, North Berwick, Gleneagles and Castle Stuart in Scotland, and numerous gems in Hawaii are among the courses he has had the pleasure of playing. Hitting the ball down the middle of the fairway is not a strong part of Jim’s game, but he is known (in his own mind) as the best putter not on tour. Most of Jim’s writing career was spent covering Major League Baseball, a tenure that started with the Oakland Athletics, who won 101 games in 1971, and ended with the Seattle Mariners, who lost 101 games in 2010. Symmetry is a wonderful thing. He currently lives in Seattle and has an 8-year-old grandson, Andrew, who is the club's current junior champion at his home course (Oakmont CC) in Glendale, Calif.

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