Corey Pereira fires a final-round 68, but the Huskies fall outside of the top five at Aldarra Golf Club.
SAMMAMISH — The troublesome hill on the front of the 15th green served as a symbolic presence of the hurdle facing Corey Pereira and the Washington men’s golf team during the final round of the NCAA Regional at Aldarra Golf Club on Wednesday.
Pereira, the Huskies’ standout senior, had hit a perfectly straight tee shot to the front edge of the green on the course’s signature par-3 hole. Some 60 feet of green — and that darn hill — stood between Pereira’s ball and the hole.
UW assistant coach Michael Wilson encouraged Pereira to use a pitching wedge. Pereira wanted to putt it. Either way, it appeared to be nearly impossible shot.
Pereira went with his putter and knocked the ball up and down the hill — and all the way into the hole for a birdie.
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The Huskies, as a team, could not replicate a similarly improbable feat.
Despite a strong push midway through the final round, Washington faded to a seventh-place finish and ended its season by missing out on a trip to the NCAA championships for the second straight year.
“It hurts. It hurts like hell right now,” UW’s first-year coach, Alan Murray, said.
Top-ranked USC used a late surge Wednesday to claim the regional championship with a three-day total of 3-under 849. Kent State (855), Florida State (862), Alabama (862) and Penn State (863) also secured spots in the NCAA championships with their top-five finishes.
Washington carded a final-round total of 4-over 88, giving the Huskies a three-day total of 869 that left them six strokes back of a top-five finish.
The Huskies, who came into Wednesday only one stroke back of fifth place, dropped five shot back of fifth midway through the final round.
But shortly after Pereira dropped in his birdie on No. 15, he heard a small roar from the 14th green — celebration of teammate Frank Garber’s birdie. Those two birdies, along with an earlier birdie from UW’s Carl Yuan on No. 14, helped push the Huskies into a fifth-place tie with Penn State at 12-over.
Suddenly, the Huskies had hope, and they had momentum.
It didn’t last.
Alabama and Penn State, playing in the same threesomes as the Huskies, soon regained control of the fourth and fifth place, respectively. The Huskies’ top four golfers then played the final three holes with a combined score of 5-over par.
“We left everything we had out there, and I’m proud of the guys,” Pereira said.
Pereira, in his final round as a Husky, carded a double-bogey 6 on the first hole but rebounded to shoot a 3-under 68. He finished the tournament with an even-par 213, tying for 11th place.
“Corey finished like the champion he is. I’m really proud of him,” Murray said. “He didn’t have his best stuff this week, but he still finds a way to grind it out. He’s displayed that heart on a consistent basis. He’s going to move on to the next chapter and turn pro, and we’re confident he’s going to do well.”
Yuan and Garber tied for 20th at 217.
“There’s some soul searching now, but I’m optimistic about where we’re headed moving forward,” Murray said. “I just need to do a better job. That’s what I’ll take from this: I need to be better. I can’t fault the kids’ effort. They played their hearts out all year long.”
Seattle University’s Joe Harvie shot a final-round 70 and finished tied for 17th. The Redhawks finished 12th in the 14-team event.
Penn State’s Cole Miller won the regional with a 7-under 206, three shots better than Kent State’s Ian Holt.