April 29, 2011
Cal State Northridge men's golf looks to end a 10-year conference championship drought beginning Monday, May 2 as the Matadors compete in the 54-hole Big West Championship at Mission Viejo Country Club. The championship tournament field will play 36 holes on Monday and 18 holes on Tuesday on the par-72, 6,965 yard course.
Northridge, which has not won a conference championship since claiming the Big Sky Conference Championship in 2000, heads into Monday's Big West Championship with one of its strongest teams in the last several years.
"We're hopefully peaking at the right time," said head coach Jim Bracken. "We're coming off a good tournament at Arizona State where we beat some really good teams."
Since joining the Big West in 2002, Northridge has finished third on two occasions; 2004 and 2008 both at Tijeras Creek G.C. in Rancho Santa Margarita.
Senior Nick Delio, who will go down as one of the top golfers in school history, has his last chance to nail down a conference championship. Delio brings three career tournament wins and 18 career top-10 finishes into his final conference championship. This season, he leads the Big West with a 71.4 stroke average, but has never finished higher than fifth in three previous conference championships.
"Anytime Nick tees it up he's got a pretty good chance to win," said Bracken. "Over his four years he's shown great consistency, maybe the most of any player in school history. He is playing really well coming off a second place at ASU and right now I'd say he's got be among the favorites to win it."
After playing in just two fall tournaments, Siporin has a pair of top-six finishes in the spring including a third-place at Long Beach State's Del Walker Intercollegiate on Mar. 7-8.
"Matt is really starring the get the confidence to get it done," said Bracken. "He's had a really good spring and he's starting to play to his capability."
Russo, who ranks second to Delio in scoring average at 73.6, finished a Northridge-best eighth at last season's Big West Championship held at the same Mission Viejo Country Club course. He brings one top-10 finish and four top-20 finishes into the championship.
"Chris is solid and has had a good season although he would tell you he's not happy with the way he's played at times," said Bracken. "He's a real competitor and likes the course so he's got confidence from playing well last year."
Katz and Chung will both be playing in the conference championship for the first time. Katz had his best tournament of the season at CSUN's Bill Cullum Invitational where he finished at four over-par 220 while Chung finished tied for third at the CSUB Invitational with a four under-par 212.
"Although Jake is a freshman he's got a lot of national tournament experience," said Bracken. "He's a proven player who is adjusting to college life. I expect Jake to help up this year and in the years to come. Arthur has worked really hard on his game and its starting to reflect better play. He had a top-five finish at Bakersfield and he needs to continue to build off performances like that."
UC Davis, which is averaging a conference-low 288.72 strokes per round, enters the championship as the team favorite while Pacific (67), UC Irvine (83), Long Beach State (101), UC Santa Barbara (102), Cal Poly (111) and CSUN (118) are all ranked among the top-118 teams in the country according to the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings.
"Obviously UC Davis and Pacific are the highest ranked teams in the conference but there's a lot of parity out there, it's going to be a really competitive tournament," said Bracken. "Mission Viejo is a champion golf course so if you can keep it around par you've got a great chance to win the tournament. I don't see anyone running away with it."
The Matadors, seeded sixth, will be paired on Monday with fourth-seed UC Santa Barbara and fifth-seed Long Beach State. CSUN will tee off beginning at 8:15 a.m. Both days will have live scoring at www.golfstat.com.
CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE
CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP FINISHES
Big Sky Conference
1996 - 5th, 895 (Meadowood G.C. - Spokane, Wash.)
1997 - 4th, 905 (Blackfoot G.C. - Blackfoot, Idaho)
1998 - 6th, 924 (Sun Brook G.C. - St. George, Utah)
1999-00 - 1st, 866 (River Ridge G.C. - Oxnard, Calif.)
2001 - 5th, 902 (Valley View G.C. - Layton, Utah)
Big West Conference
2002 - 8th, 919 (Serrano C.C. - El Dorado Hills, Calif.)
2003 - 5th, 596 (Serrano C.C. - El Dorado Hills, Calif.)
2004 - 3rd, 874 (Tijeras Creek G.C. - Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.)
2005 - 9th, 900 (Tijeras Creek G.C. - Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.)
2006 - 4th, 876 (Tijeras Creek G.C. - Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.)
2007 - 6th, 879 (Tijeras Creek G.C. - Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.)
2008 - 3rd, 873 (Tijeras Creek G.C. - Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.)
2009 - 6th, 891 (San Luis Obispo C.C. - San Luis Obispo, Calif.)
2010 - 5th, 903 (Mission Viejo C.C. - Mission Viejo, Calif.)
- GO MATADORS -