Pac-10 Flexes Muscles in Hawaii

If one early tournament is any indication, the men's teams in the Pac-10 Conference figure to be certain factors by the end of the 2010 collegiate golf season.

At the Mauna Lani Invitational, which concluded last Friday in Hawaii, Stanford won the team portion of the competition, finishing at 2-over par. Three strokes back in a tie for second were Oregon and Washington. The event featured 11 of the top 20 teams in the nation.

The Huskies enjoyed a two-stroke lead over Stanford heading into the final round, but that margin soon vanished. The UW fell behind by as many as five shots, but All-American and the top-ranked amateur in the world, Nick Taylor, and fellow senior Richard Lee made up ground before falling just short.

"A two-stroke lead is like being up by two in a basketball game with 10 minutes left," UW coach Matt Thurmond said. "It's not like we're in control of the tournament at that point. If we had a 10-shot lead, that is different.

"It's hard to have a chance to win, and not win, so that's a little disappointing," Thurmond added. "But overall, it was a really good week for us coming out of the winter."

UCLA finished eighth at 21-over par, while USC was a shot back in ninth place as part of the Pac-10's fine showing. The nation's No. 3-ranked team, Arizona State, finished 10th and 13th-ranked Oregon State ended up 12th in the 22-team field.

Texas junior Bobby Hudson took medalist honors with a 7-under 209 total in the 54-hole event, including a 6-under 66 on Friday that helped the Longhorns to a fourth-place finish. The top Pac-10 individual finishers were Stanford junior Sihwan Kim and Taylor at 3-under 213, just behind Florida State's Brooks Loepka (210) and Oklahoma State's Kevin Tway (212).

"I've been playing really good golf," Hudson told "I knew I was playing well when I got back to campus in January, but I had not been able to test myself in a college tournament. Today, I just went out and got it going. I felt confident. I was driving the ball well and staying in the present. I was able to get in some birdies, and then it felt more like the (2008) Morris Williams (tournament), where I was just able to get in a zone. Coach (John) Fields was giving me perfect lines every time on my putts, and I was able to knock them down. We were able to pick my spots on the tees and in the fairways. We just played it smart."

"Another really good week," Thurmond said of Taylor. "He would have liked to win, but in golf, you don't win them all. He made more putts this week, and that was a good thing."