Oct. 16, 2007
SIMI VALLEY, Calif. - - Led by sophomore Brian Hollenbeck and freshman Michael Casca, who finished one-two among individuals, UC Santa Barbara opened the 2007-08 season with a wire-to-wire victory at the Bill Cullum Invitational at Wood Ranch Golf Course in Simi Valley, Calif., defeating second-place Portland by 11 shots.
Hollenbeck, a second year player from Fullerton, Calif., passed his teammate Casca, as well as Southern Utah's Eric Nilsson, when he drained a 50-foot eagle putt on the final hole to finish with a 4-under par 212. Casca, who led after two rounds, finished tied with Nilsson for second with a 3-under par 213.
"For Brian it is a result of all of the hard work he has put into his game," said UCSB head coach Steve Lass of Hollenbeck's first collegiate victory. "He had a double-bogey on 10 but he hung tough and came through with the big shot. It's not easy to win your first tournament, Brian was very composed."
Hollenbeck shot a final round 70, as did Nilsson. Casca, a native of Camarillo, Calif., who attended Oaks Christian High School, shot a 5-under par 67 in the first round to put himself into a position to compete for the title. In windy conditions on Tuesday, he shot a 74, which was still good enough for a second-place tie.
Another sophomore, Matt Grush, also had a solid effort, finishing tied for 14th with a 6-over par 222. Tyler Weir, a freshman from La Costa Canyon High School in San Marcos, Calif., tied for 20th with a 8-over par 224. Junior Tony Verna was the fifth Gaucho player. He shot a 239.
"This is the first time that I have had two freshmen (Casca and Weir) in the lineup in our first tournament since I began coaching," Lass said. "Usually freshmen need some time to get adjusted to playing at the collegiate level, but both Michael and Tyler were very comfortable. I am a little surprised, but very pleased."
The Gauchos last tournament victory came at the Santa Clara Bronco Invitational in the fall of 2006.
UCSB will return to action next week when it travels to Somis, Calif., to take part in the Club Glove Intercollegiate on Oct. 22-23.