Corey Pereira fires a final-round 68, but the Huskies fall outside of the top five at Aldarra Golf Club.
SAMMAMISH — The troublesome hill on the front of the 15th green served as a symbolic presence of the hurdle facing Corey Pereira and the Washington men’s golf team during the final round of the NCAA Regional at Aldarra Golf Club on Wednesday.
Pereira, the Huskies’ standout senior, had hit a perfectly straight tee shot to the front edge of the green on the course’s signature par-3 hole. Some 60 feet of green — and that darn hill — stood between Pereira’s ball and the hole.
UW assistant coach Michael Wilson encouraged Pereira to use a pitching wedge. Pereira wanted to putt it. Either way, it appeared to be nearly impossible shot.
Pereira went with his putter and knocked the ball up and down the hill — and all the way into the hole for a birdie.
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The Huskies, as a team, could not replicate a similarly improbable feat.
Despite a strong push midway through the final round, Washington faded to a seventh-place finish and ended its season by missing out on a trip to the NCAA championships for the second straight year.
“It hurts. It hurts like hell right now,” UW’s first-year coach, Alan Murray, said.
Top-ranked USC used a late surge Wednesday to claim the regional championship with a three-day total of 3-under 849. Kent State (855), Florida State (862), Alabama (862) and Penn State (863) also secured spots in the NCAA championships with their top-five finishes.
Washington carded a final-round total of 4-over 88, giving the Huskies a three-day total of 869 that left them six strokes back of a top-five finish.
The Huskies, who came into Wednesday only one stroke back of fifth place, dropped five shot back of fifth midway through the final round.
But shortly after Pereira dropped in his birdie on No. 15, he heard a small roar from the 14th green — celebration of teammate Frank Garber’s birdie. Those two birdies, along with an earlier birdie from UW’s Carl Yuan on No. 14, helped push the Huskies into a fifth-place tie with Penn State at 12-over.
Suddenly, the Huskies had hope, and they had momentum.
It didn’t last.
Alabama and Penn State, playing in the same threesomes as the Huskies, soon regained control of the fourth and fifth place, respectively. The Huskies’ top four golfers then played the final three holes with a combined score…