Cal’s Homa pulls away for top individual prize
by Carlton D. White
May 31, 2013 12:06 AM | 2716 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
California’s rise into the No. 1 team position was fueled by Max Homa, who clinched the NCAA’s individual championship with his 66 Thursday.
<BR>Staff photo by Kelly J. Huff
California’s rise into the No. 1 team position was fueled by Max Homa, who clinched the NCAA’s individual championship with his 66 Thursday.
Staff photo by Kelly J. Huff
MILTON — After a 65 Wednesday allowed him to move up the leaderboard, California’s Max Homa continued his solid play to claim the NCAA’s individual championship Thursday at Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course.

Homa shot even-par 70 on Tuesday, and followed that up with a 5-under round Wednesday to put himself into a tie for fourth overall and in position for his second championship of the season. The Pac-12 Conference champion started his final round with three birdies through his first five holes, and collected another one on the par-5 12th to enter the clubhouse at 4-under 66 and 9-under 201 through 54 holes.

Overall, Homa had 13 birdies and only two bogeys through the stroke-play portion of the championship. His only significant blemish was a double-bogey on the par-4 18th Wednesday.

“I knew, after the first nine holes (Thursday), that I had at least a one-stroke lead,” Homa said. “I felt like, if I played solid on the back nine, that I had a good chance, and it worked out.

“This feels good. Winning the Pac-12 validated my season and gave me confidence going into this. Coming out on top made this even sweeter.”

Homa bettered six other golfers who all finished tied for second at 6-under 204. Four more, including Georgia Tech sophomore Ollie Schniederjans, tied for eighth at 203.

Illinois’ Thomas Pieters finished at 207 and was unable to defend his title. No golfer has won consecutive championships since Phil Mickelson did it for Arizona State in 1989 and ’90.

Though he has the individual title in hand, Homa’s week isn’t done. He and his Cal teammates are the No. 1 seed for the match-play portion of the tournament, which begins today.

“The job’s not done,” Homa said. “This was part one.”

Schniederjans entered the final round tied for fourth at 5-under. He played even-par Thursday, nearly alternating for birdie throughout the day. His 15-foot birdie on the par-3 13th moved him to even-par for the round, and he added another birdie from 7 feet out at the par-4 16th to go to 1 under.

Schniederjans, however, finished his day with a bogey at the par-4 18th to move back to even.

“I made some good birdies, but I made some bad bogeys that hurt,” Schniederjans said. “I think I putted better (Thursday), but I’m bummed about the four bogeys. That was the difference.

“I wasn’t out of the (running for the title), but I knew I’d have to tear it up to get there, and it didn’t happen. But I’m ecstatic that we’re No. 2 going into match play. I’ve never been in match play, so it should be fun. California has shown, though, that they’re the team to beat.”

Tech sophomore Anders Albertson started his final round tied for ninth, but fell into a tie for 26th after a 3-over 73 Thursday.

The former Etowah High School standout was even through six holes, but he double-bogeyed No. 8 and bogeyed No. 9 to sit 3 over entering the back nine. Birdies at 11 and 12 were canceled out by bogeys at 16 and 18.

“I just didn’t play that well (Thursday),” Albertson said. “I had stretches where I executed and some holes where I played poorly. I just need to continue to focus on the routine and let everything take care of itself.”
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