Huskies take aim at NCAA golf championships
Senior Ty Chambers gets to close out his career in style
Seattle Times staff
Where: Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
The format: There is 18 holes of stroke play each day Tuesday-Thursday, with the five-player teams using their four best scores each day. The top eight teams advance to match play. The individual champion will be determined after the final round of stroke play Thursday.
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Ty Chambers, the only senior on the University of Washington men's golf team, couldn't think of a better way to end his college career than at the NCAA championships.
With two of the best players in the country in junior Chris Williams and freshman Cheng-Tsung Pan, the Huskies are threats to win the tournament, which begins Tuesday at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. Washington is the No. 8 seed in the 30-team event.
But just as important as the two stars for the Huskies will be their other three players in this event: Trevor Simsby, Charlie Hughes and Chambers. Each team must take the scores of its top four players in each round during three days of stroke-play competition.
After the third round Thursday, an individual national champion is crowned and the top eight teams move into match-play competition, with the championship Sunday.
A couple of months ago, it would have been hard for Chambers to dream this type of ending to his career. For the fourth consecutive year, he was not among the top five players on the team and only played in a couple of events.
But a spot opened up before the Pac-12 championships because Corey McElyea, who was the team's No. 5 seed most of the season, is no longer with the team.
Chambers shot a 71 in the last round of the Pac-12 championships at the end of April. That helped earned him a spot in the NCAA regional, which Washington won.
"Ty is just so excited that he's bringing a good energy to the team," said UW coach Matt Thurmond. "The rest of the players are excited too, but it's all new for him."
Chambers, who played at Brush Prairie High School in southwestern Washington, said it was difficult for him at one point knowing he might not ever get to play in big college tournaments.
"I think I would have lived, but I am very grateful to play in these last three events," said Chambers, who is set to graduate with a degree in political science. "There was a lot of pressure being a senior to crack the lineup, and it was hard. Nothing would make me happier than to end my career with a national championship."
Chambers wasn't happy with his play in the NCAA regional, and his score was used in only one of the three rounds. But he said his game is coming around, and the pressure of playing the Pac-12 championships and the NCAA regional has him ready.
"I have a mindset that I have nothing to lose because I am a senior, and I am going to have a great time," said Chambers, who plans to compete as an amateur this summer, then pursue a professional career. "I feel like all the parts of my game are getting better."
Thurmond said he expects Chambers to play well.
"He doesn't have to be a superstar, but it would be great if he could contribute a couple of good rounds," Thurmond said. "And if we advance, he is a good match-play player. He can beat some people."
Thurmond said he is confident his team can make it to match play. He said winning the NCAA regional against a strong field that included top-ranked Texas erased any lingering bad feelings from the team's seventh-place finish in the Pac-12 championships.
"Having the lead entering the final round of regionals, and then winning it was a big thing for us," Thurmond said. "I don't think we could win the NCAA without the experience of winning that. That was a crucial step in the process."