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College golf: Max Homa, Cal advance to NCAA Semifinals

College golf: Valencia grad, Cal outduel San Diego State in quarterfinals

Posted: June 2, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 2, 2012 1:55 a.m.
 

The week began with a field of 30 teams and 156 players at the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship.

At the conclusion of the fourth day of competition on Friday at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, it’s down to just four teams.

Among teams still alive: the University of California, Berkeley, which includes junior Max Homa.

The Valencia graduate and his team advanced to the semifinal round of the Championships by defeating San Diego State University 3-2 in match play.

Homa himself lost his match 4 and 3 against SDSU’s J.J. Spaun, but Cal’s No. 3, 4 and 5 golfers got the job done to secure a come-from-behind victory

“Unbelievable. I’m so excited,” said Homa, who completed his round before all his teammates. “Today was so stressful... Unfortunately after being down early, I had to watch that all go down and it was a lot of back-and-forth.”

In the end, Pace Johnson, Michael Kim and Joel Stalter won their matches for the Golden Bears, who will face Alabama today in the same match-play format.

Once again in Cal’s No. 1 spot, Homa will face Alabama’s No. 1 Justin Thomas, the freshman sensation who is 11th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.

Thomas leads an Alabama squad which came into the tournament as the No. 2 seed and finished first place in the team stroke play portion, which wrapped up Thursday.

Rankings and seedings don’t intimidate Homa, who has a proven successful track record in match play.

“I feel like my demeanor is a little better in match play,” Homa said. “I always feel confident because you’re not killed by one hole or anything.”

In Friday’s round, Homa was killed by a stretch of holes in the middle of his day.

He was up 2 up on Spaun after a birdie on the 7th hole, but quickly dropped back after losing holes 8 and 10.

With the golfers all square headed into the par-5 11th, Spaun buried a 60-foot putt for eagle to take the lead in the round for good.

“I’ve known (Spaun) for a while,” Homa said of the 14th-ranked amateur. “He’s actually a pretty good friend of mine. I had him down early, I continued to play well, but holes 8 through 11 changed everything.”

The Homa vs. Thomas matchup will begin at 10 a.m. today. If Cal wins, it will move on to play for an NCAA title on Sunday against the winner of the Oregon-Texas contest.

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