PULLMAN, Wash. – Zach Smith will be the first UC Santa Barbara golfer ever to advance to the NCAA Championship Tournament as an individual after he fired a 5-under par 65 in the third and final round of the NCAA Pullman Regional to finish at 13-below par overall and in second-place all by himself.
The Gaucho senior, who began the day tied for second, jumped out of the gates quickly as he birdied the first two holes, moving into second all alone. Smith finished the front nine with a 2-under 33 as he continued to maintain his high standing.
"Zach got off to a great start by making birdies on one and two to start off his day," said UCSB head coach Steve Lass. "From that point on it looked like he had it on cruise control by hitting fairways and greens and making a handful of birdie putts."
The Pleasanton, Calif., native was masterful on the back nine at the Palouse Ridge Golf Course. He birdied the 10th, 12th and 14th and parred the other six holes to finish with a 3-under 32, completing the day with a 5-under 65.
At one point, San Francisco's Tim Widing, also competing as an individual, carded an eagle on the par-4 15th hole, pulling him even with Smith, but while UCSB's top player calmly parred the remaining holes, Widing bogeyed the 17th to drop a shot back. He finished tied for third with two other players.
"The only real test Zach faced was on 18 with his ball against a tree," Lass said. "Not a problem, as he turned his wedge upside down and hit a beautiful 90 yard shot left handed. It was about as pure a swing as you'll ever see and it set-up an easy par. Zach proved to be one cool, calm customer this week. I look forward to watching him at Nationals next week."
BYU's Rhett Rasmussen, who entered the day tied for second-place, shot a 7-under 63 to finish the tournament with a 15-under par 195, two shots better than Smith. Widing, Blaine Hale of Oklahoma and Scott Stevens of South Carolina each finished three shots off the pace with 12-under 198s. Walker Lee of Texas A&M was sixth with a 10-under par 200.
Texas A&M won the team portion of the tournament with a 33-under par 807, two shots better than BYU, three better than Oklahoma, 11 ahead of Georgia Tech and 12 better than Colorado State and South Carolina.
Smith will travel to Fayetteville, Ark., where he will take part in the NCAA Men's Championship at the Blessings Golf Club. The practice round will be played May 23 with the four-round tournament running from May 24-27. There will be quarterfinal and semifinal team match play on May 28 with the final held on May 29. The tournament will be aired on the Golf Channel.