Nov. 8, 2006
STOCKTON, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara shot a 12-under par 852 to finish in third-place at the Pacific Invitational at the Brookside Country Club in Stockton, Calif., on Wednesday. It was the Gauchos' third top-three finish in three fall tournaments this year, the best early-season showing in the 14-year tenure of head coach Steve Lass.
"This is the best fall we've had since I've been here," Lass said. "Even in the years we went to the NCAA Tournament (1994 and 1998) we didn't play this well during the fall season."
Lass attributes the fast start to a couple of things, one is pretty obvious, but the other is not.
"We just have better team than we've had," he began. "But we also did a some things differently this year. For one, we didn't play in a tournament right when we got back to school, we waited about two and half weeks. I think the guys were a little more set in school when we did play. That made a difference."
Junior Ryan Keefe led the way for UCSB at the Pacific Invitational. The Vista, Calif., native carded a 6-under par 210 to finish in a tie for seventh-place. Keefe shot a season-best 5-under par 67 in Monday's first round and he logged a 2-under par 70 in the second round. Redshirt freshman Brian Hollenbeck continued his outstanding early-season play by shooting a 4-under par 212 to tie for 11th. He shot a 4-under par 68 in the first round. Junior Marty Melcher was the third Gaucho to shoot even or under par. Melcher was 1-under par in the final round to finish with an even-par 216, a tie for 21st-place.
BYU won the team title at the tournament with a 36-under par 830. Charlotte finished second with an 841, 23-under. Following UCSB's 12-under par 852, was fourth-place UC Irvine, which shot a nine-under 855. Those were the only four schools that shot under-par for the tournament. In addition to UC Irvine, the Gauchos finished ahead of three other Big West opponents, Cal State Northridge (6-over par 870), Pacific (22-over par 886) and UC Riverside (54-over par 918).
UCSB, which won the Santa Clara Invitational and finished third at the Bill Cullum Invitational in October, will not return to action until the spring season begins. The Gauchos travel to the John Burns Invitational at the Leilehua Golf Course in Honolulu on Feb. 21-23.