UW's Darren Wallace edges out teammate for Pac-10 golf title
Huskies win team title by 18 strokes over Oregon, will advance to NCAA regionals
Seattle Times staff
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If there was any doubt that it was going to be Darren Wallace's day Wednesday, it was erased on the ninth hole of the Pac-10 golf championships at Seattle Golf Club.
Wallace was putting from off the green, more than 40 feet from the hole, and he conferred with assistant coach Garrett Clegg.
"I was telling Garrett the chances of making this putt is just about zero," the Washington junior said. "When it went in I was more surprised than anything."
That gave him an eagle and a 9-shot lead in the individual standings. Despite double bogeys on the 16th and 18th holes, he coasted to a 4-shot win over Huskies teammate Nick Taylor with an 11-under 277.
Washington's team victory was just as easy as the Huskies led Oregon by 20 shots most of the back nine before winning by 18. It was another 14 shots back to Arizona State. Washington State was last, 100 shots behind.
Washington, ranked No. 5 in the nation, gets the conference's automatic berth into the NCAA regionals, May 14-16.
"You try to imagine what would be the ideal situation, and this was it," Huskies coach Matt Thurmond said. "You think about having a shootout down the stretch, and that's always fun, but I was sure hoping today that we would not have a shootout. I was really hoping it would be easy."
That it was.
"It was nice to be able to coast in," said Taylor, who has won a Huskies-record four tournaments this season.
Wallace had not won a tournament with the Huskies, but he finished second out of 87 in last week's U.S. Intercollegiate at Stanford, posting a final-round 63. He showed that was not a fluke at the Pac-10s, including a competition-record 65 in Tuesday's third round that extended a 1-shot lead to 5.
"I've always felt like Darren had great potential," Thurmond said. "He's got so many skills, and his good shots are so good. But he hadn't put it together like he'd like to and the way we'd like him to until the last few weeks. Something clicked for him, and he's on fire."
Wallace said he couldn't remember ever having a 5-shot lead before the final round of a tournament.
"I was definitely excited to get on the course today," he said. "I was definitely feeling a little bit nervous, and it took me a little while to get to sleep last night. But it was more excitement than anything. It was a pretty comfortable lead, and to be able to come out of the gates and extend that lead was key."
Wallace was at 6-under for the day before the pair of double bogeys left him with a 70.
"It was nice to have that lead, especially coming down the stretch when I was throwing away shots," he said. "It would have been nice to shoot another low round, but a win is a win."
The Huskies will likely be sent to Daly City, Calif., for the NCAA regionals at Lake Merced Golf Club. Selections are Monday.
Washington should come in confident after having no trouble against some of the nation's best teams, including No. 3 USC (eighth in the Pac-10 tournament, 50 shots back) and No. 4 Stanford (fourth, 33 shots back).
"The regional is a fresh start," Thurmond said. "You start from zero. We'll be confident, but we just hope not overconfident."
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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