The C.T. Pan era is officially over at the University of Washington. The demise of Husky Men's Golf, however, has been greatly exaggerated.
Showing the kind of grit and endurance that has come to characterize many golf teams under the stewardship of coach Matt Thurmond, the Huskies came back from nowhere on Tuesday to finish the Husky Invitational as co-champions. The Dawgs went into the 15th hole seven shots behind leader Oregon before a furious rally led by the immutable Frank Garber who birdied each of his last four holes to propel Washington.
Junior Corey Pereira was the star of the tournament as he finished as the Individual Champion, finishing one shot better than USC's Sean Crocker with a 2-under 69.
The full press release from UW's Ricky Brackett is below.
UW Ties For Husky Invite Title With Late Comeback
SUNCADIA, Wash. - Washington battled Oregon, Oregon State and USC for the Husky Invitational title, eventually coming to the 18th hole one shot behind the Ducks at Tumble Creek Club. Oregon was in at 13-over and Frank Garber was the Huskies' last chance to make up the final deficit.
The Dawgs played their last five holes at 10-under just to get to that point as Oregon had created some separation, but the hot finish got UW back in it.
"I am an optimist and I didn't think we had a legitimate chance," said head coach Matt Thurmond. "Oregon was ahead of us on the 15th tee by seven shots. There are some par fives to take advantage of, but you usually give them back on those last three holes, which are really tough. So many things needed to happen for us."
Garber hit a good drive, then and great approach to the difficult 18th, a hole that individual champion Corey Pereira had just bogeyed. Standing over a 12-footer for birdie, Garber did not know he needed to make to tie, but sensed that it was big.
Garber calmly sunk the clutch putt, finishing his has last four holes in 4-under and earning the Dawgs co-medalist honors with Oregon.
"Frank was like Pan at the U.S. Open Qualifier, playing his last four holes at 4-under," said Thurmond. "It's really difficult to do that. His shot on 18 was incredible, nobody could hit it into that bowl. You are just hoping to make pars coming in, so birdies are just awesome."
Garber had the heroic finish, but it was Pereira that captured the individual title by playing nearly flawless all week. His three rounds were all in the 60's to win his team's home tournament.
Pereira shot 2-under 69, making four birdies, four bogeys and an eagle. His birdie on 14 grabbed the lead he shared with Sean Crocker of USC and then both players made eagle on 15. Crocker then birdied 16 to tie Pereira, but gave it back on 17 with a bogey, while Pereira parred. Both players then bogeyed the difficult 18th to give the Husky junior a one-shot victory.
"I am excited for Corey," said Thurmond. "He's a junior now and taking a big step forward. He asked me if it is weird not having a dominant player like Pan around who always comes through. I told him I have one of those."
Pereira finished one shot better than Crocker and three better than Aaron Wise of Oregon as the three battled Tuesday, playing in the same group.
"I walked the whole day with Corey and he was in a battle with two really good players," said Thurmond. "It was an absolute shootout. That final nine walking with those guys was as good of golf as a group I have seen in a long time."
It was the second career collegiate medalist honor for Pereira who also won last season at the Lampkin San Diego Classic, tying with teammate Cheng-Tsung Pan.
The Dawgs other top-10 finish came from senior Jonathan Sanders who finished ninth with a three-day total of 4-over 217. Sanders shot even-par 71, but 2-under on the back nine to help the Dawgs make up the ground against Oregon.
Garber shot a 3-under 68 on Tuesday after struggling a bit on Monday. He finished tied for 24th, but his finish will be something to build on as it was much needed by his teammates.
Jordan Lu was the other score kept at 3-over 74. He finished tied for 14th at 7-over for the week,
Matt Marrese finished with his best round of the week, a 4-over 75 to tie for 56th at 19-over.
Over on Prospector, the Dawgs also had a medalist as Kevin Kwon won the Husky Individual. Kwon shot even-par 72 to hang onto a one-shot victory over Brian Jung of Oregon State. Kwon parred the last five holes to hang onto the narrow margin as Jung also made par on each of those holes.
Washington had all four others finish in the top-10, led by Spencer Weiss who placed fourth at 6-over for the week. Tyler Salsbury had the low round of the day, shooting 69, to climb to seventh, while Greg Gildea tied for eighth, finishing at 10-over. Chris Babcock rounded out the Husky squad, tying for 10th at 11-over.
The Dawgs will next compete beginning Monday, Sept. 28, when the top-five players travel to Birmingham, Ala., for the Shoal Creek Invitational, while the others will play at the Itani Homes Collegiate Invitational hosted by Washington State.