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UC Santa Barbara Wins Big West Golf Tournament

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The UC Santa Barbara golf team probably didn’t feel too secure Tuesday looking down the ninth fairway of the Muirfield Course at the Pacific Golf and Country Club in San Clemente.

The Gauchos already had stumbled down the 595-yard, par-five hole earlier in the day, dropping six shots from their lead at the Big West Conference men’s golf championships.

One by one, the Gauchos avoided the thick patches of barranca, which outlined the fairway, to win the two-day, 54-hole competition, their first conference tournament victory in 28 years.

The Gauchos shot 22-over-par 886 for the tournament, Long Beach State was second (900) and defending champion Pacific third (905). UC Irvine finished tied with New Mexico State for seventh (913).

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“I didn’t think we were going to hang on at the end,” UCSB Coach Steve Lass said. “We didn’t play real great our fifth nine, the first nine of the last round; we were a little shaky. I think what helped was none of the other teams were turning it on.”

UCSB freshman Greg Snider wasn’t able to hold on to the individual title. He started the final 18 holes with a three-shot lead over Pacific’s Jason Preeo and a four-shot lead over playing partner Brian King of Idaho.

King caught Snider after shooting two-under through eight holes on the nine-hole Carnoustie Course. Preeo, five groups ahead, remained close to par and was a shot back.

King and Snider began to falter on the Muirfield nine, with Snider enduring three consecutive three-putts in one stretch. Preeo, a sophomore from Stockton, got back to par for the final round when he rolled in a 20-footer on the par-three eighth hole.

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Although his team combined to shoot eight over on No. 9 earlier in the day, Preeo had birdied it in both rounds. In his third attempt, he found the fairway with his drive but couldn’t see where his ball landed after a blind second shot. Preeo took a provisional drop in case his first shot had gone out of bounds, but then found his first ball six feet from a patch of barranca. He then made par and finished even for the final round, one over for the tournament.

Los Alamitos graduate Jason Beach of Long Beach State, who shot a tournament-best 68 in the opening round, finished tied for second with UC Irvine’s Mike Lawrence at four over. Snider shot 79 and finished tied for fourth.

In nonconference baseball:

Chapman 3, Cal Lutheran 1--Jeff Blitstein pitched a four-hitter to help Chapman beat fifth-ranked Cal Lutheran (24-9).

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The Panthers (25-10) are ranked fifth in the region with five games left to play.


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