Golfers open new season at Rod Myers Invite

Junior Jesse Bratz returns to action after redshirting the 2016-17 season. (Steve Chen, Big West Conference)
Sept. 12, 2017

DAVIS, Calif. - A tough field that includes two 2017 NCAA Final Four participants awaits UC Davis at the Rod Myers Invitational men’s golf tournament, held at the Duke University Golf Club this Saturday and Sunday. For head coach Cy Williams, now in his 23rd season at the helm, the season cannot being soon enough. Several of his players enjoyed strong summers on the amateur circuit, while his standout freshman has already established himself as a team leader.

“We’re really excited to go back. It’s an awesome course and a really strong field,” said Williams. “It’s not often we travel this far east, so it will be good to see how we handle the time difference and the different grasses we’ll play on. I’m excited to see how our guys do.”

Like most teams, the Aggies run a qualifying tournament, or a “Q-School,” to determine who will compose the five-man lineup for the upcoming tournament. Certainly, a few familiar faces made the cut, particularly fifth-year senior Evan Knight, a returning All-Big West Conference honorable mention who qualified for the U.S. Amateur in August. Sophomore Matt Robinson, who played 30 rounds for a 75.07 average as a freshman, also punched his ticket to the Tar Heel State. 

Junior Jesse Bratz makes his return to competition after redshirting the 2016-17 season. He averaged 74.5 per round as a sophomore and enjoyed a top-10 finish at the El Macero Classic that year. Junior Ryan Han looks like he is prepared to post the numbers from his freshman season, when he averaged 73.5 per round and finished 3-under-par in the NCAA postseason. Han was the highest UC Davis finisher at the State Fair Amateur Championship over the summer. 

Leading the Aggies in their Q-School is certainly a familiar name to UC Davis golf fans, but not yet a familiar face. Thomas Hutchison, the younger brother of junior golfer Samantha Hutchison, will make his collegiate debut after firing a 70 at Morgan Creek and rounds of 70 and 68 at El Macero to close out the qualifier. He finished at 4-under-par 284 for the four rounds last week. Hutchison was a Junior Tour of Northern California Player of the Year before signing his commitment to UC Davis last fall.

“He won our team ‘Q-school’ and he has maybe the best junior record we’ve ever had out of a recruit,” said Williams. “He’s certainly one of the top two or three.”

This lineup will take on a strong field that includes 2017 national runner-up Oregon and Final Four participant Vanderbilt. Wake Forest and host Duke also finished in the final coaches’ top 20. The remainder of the field comprises UNC Greensboro, Louisville, East Tennessee State, Liberty, Penn State, Princeton and East Carolina.

UC Davis will tee off from the 10th hole starting at 8:22 a.m. EDT (5:22 Pacific). The Rod Myers Invitational, named for the Blue Devils’ legendary coach who passed away in 2007, consists of two 18-hole rounds on Saturday followed by a single final round on Sunday. The Aggies finished T11th at last year’s event.

THE DANCE FLOOR: As is standard for collegiate golf, live scoring for the RMI will be available via Golfstat at Golfstat... Matt Robinson and Ryan Han are the lone Aggies who made the trip in 2016... Last year’s top UC Davis finisher, Brandon Baumgarten, did not make the cut for this tourney but will certainly be a major contributor in 2017-18... He ranked 3rd on the team with a 74.15 average as a junior last year.. UC Davis picked up a strong transfer in Tanner Hughes, who averaged 73.88 in 11 tourneys during two seasons at California... Hughes is not available to play until the spring portion of the tourney, but Williams expects him to be a major contributor... The Aggies graduated two seniors last year, including three-time All-Big West performer Ben Corfee.

Providing a small-town community feel while providing a world-class academic experience, UC Davis is home to more than 37,000 students and centrally located between San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, and the Napa Valley. The No. 6-ranked public university in the nation according to the Wall Street Journal, and among the top 10 public universities nationwide according to U.S. News and World Report, UC Davis offers nearly 100 graduate programs and more than 100 academic majors across four colleges and six professional schools, ranking among the world and nation’s best in numerous disciplines, including veterinary science, agriculture, and plant and animal programs.