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College golf: Notable year comes to end for Cal's Max Homa

College golf: Valencia grad and Cal Bears lose in NCAA semifinals

Posted: June 3, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 3, 2012 1:55 a.m.
 

Not only was 2011-12 the most successful golf season of Max Homa’s career.

It was also one of the best ever recorded for his college team, the University of California, Berkeley.

On Saturday, the semifinal round of the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship, it came to an end after Cal’s narrow 3-2 loss in match play to the University of Alabama at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades.

Valencia graduate and Cal junior Homa finished the week out strong, defeating Alabama’s Justin Thomas 2 and 1 in his match, but it wasn’t enough to push the Golden Bears to today’s final.

“It was pretty tough to swallow the way it ended,” Homa said. “But Alabama is a heck of a team top-to-bottom. They’re pretty unbelievable. It’s just one of those days where nobody lost, somebody just went out and took it.”

Homa finished his round first among Cal’s five golfers, giving his team an early 1-0 lead after beating Thomas, the No. 11 golfer in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.

At that point, the rest of the Cal field were all involved in tight matches, but only Michael Kim was able to pull off a win, while Brandon Hagy, Pace Johnson and Joel Stalter lost to give the Crimson Tide a trip to the NCAA championship.

“I was kind of on top of the world for maybe a whole 60 seconds,” Homa said of his round “and then I kind of walked over and saw how we were doing and saw we were struggling. Then, the next hour was one of the longest of my life.”

It marked the furthest any Cal team had advanced in an NCAA final under its current format that includes three days of stroke play followed by three days of match play.

The Golden Bears won one previous NCAA title in 2004, but that was before match play was incorporated.

For Homa, it was also a personal best finish in the NCAA finals after he finished tied for ninth among 156 individual golfers after 54 holes of stroke play that concluded on Thursday.

The event initially included 30 teams, but only the top eight moved on to match play beyond Thursday.

Cal defeated San Diego State in the first round of match play on Friday before falling to Alabama, the tournament’s No. 2 overall seed.

“I just know we weren’t outworked this year,” Homa said. “and I feel like we could have won it. That’s what makes this loss so tough.”

Homa had to rally back to win his round Saturday, falling behind two holes after playing seven.

He quickly closed the gap with a birdie on 8 and a par on 9 to win both holes an push it to all square headed to the final nine holes.

In the end, Homa made enough clutch putts and limited the damage on the last stretch of tough holes.

He sunk a 12-footer on 17 to clinch the round.

Though Homa’s collegiate season is over, he will quickly return to the course on Monday when he competes in a 36-hole U.S. Open Sectional Qualifier at Lake Merced Golf Course in Daly City.

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