You probably wouldn’t have predicted it, but then again, everyone knew senior Darren Wallace had it in him.
In a senior season that has seen its share of struggles, Wallace came out firing when it really mattered. Wallace led the first-place Huskies with a 2-under 70 after the first round of the NCAA West Regional at Gold Mountain. He is tied for third place, just one shot back of the lead.
The UW as a team finished at 2-under, with Colorado State and Oregon State five shots back in second place.
It hasn’t been an amazing season for Wallace, the 2009 Pac-10 Tournament medalist. He is fifth on the team this year with a 73.18 stroke average, and while the UW’s top three golfers have a combined 28 rounds in the 60s, Wallace has just two, and he hasn’t been the low player in any tournament this season.
Thursday was a different story for the native of Langley, British Columbia. After parring the first three holes, Wallace birdied the next three, setting the tone for a solid round.
“He’s a great player, and he just hasn’t played as well lately,” head coach Matt Thurmond said. “Any day, he’s going to have a good round. It feels like this postseason is going to go well for him, and hopefully he’ll follow this up with a couple good rounds.”
Seniors Nick Taylor and Richard Lee and freshman Charlie Hughes are all tied for eighth place with five others.
Freshman Chris Williams, who has already won two events this season, is tied for 16th after a 1-over 73.
Thurmond followed Hughes for most of the round and said the freshman had a few three-putts but was otherwise “solid.” The ninth-year head coach was impressed with Hughes and Williams, his two freshmen making their postseason debuts.
“For the freshmen to go out after the rain delay and with the pressure of Regionals, they did a great job,” Thurmond said.
Pouring rain yesterday morning delayed the tournament for 90 minutes. Greens became slower, and fairways were soggy. The course played much longer because players weren’t getting any roll off their tee shots due to the soft grounds.
“The rain has mostly made all the holes longer,” Thurmond said. “When you’d usually play a 7-iron, now you’re playing a 4-iron.”
The Huskies begin play today at 9:10 a.m. They conclude play tomorrow, with the top five teams and the top individual not from those five teams advancing to the NCAA Championships in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Reach Sports Editor Taylor Soper at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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