April 23, 2013
TEXARKANA, Ark. - When the University of Houston Men's Golf program first joined Conference USA, the Cougars captured five straight team titles from 1997 to 2001. Preparing for their final appearance at that league's postseason event, it seemed only fitting that the Cougars would go out on top at the C-USA Championships.
The Cougars entered Tuesday's final round tied with No. 20 SMU for the team lead but finished ahead of the Mustangs by three strokes to win the title. Houston ended the tournament with a score of 7-under-par 857, while SMU finished at 860.
"Our main focus was to be around the lead with nine holes to go because you never know what's going to happen. We did a good job of that," director of golf Jonathan Dismuke said. "We were neck-and-neck coming down the stretch, and we made a couple of putts, which was the difference. It was fun to see."
Sophomore Roman Robledo drained a 30-foot birdie putt on the 18th and final hole to capture the individual title for himself and provide the final margin of victory in the Cougars' team championship at Texarkana Country Club on Tuesday afternoon.
"I was just trying to lag it up there," Robledo said. "As soon as I set the line, I knew it was going to be a good putt. It was just a matter of making the correct stroke, and I made a good stroke."
The Harlingen, Texas, native - who sunk a 40-foot birdie to cap Monday's Second Round with a sparkling 65 - fired a 1-under-par 71 to finish at 8-under-par 208. He finished two strokes ahead of SMU's Bryson Dechambeau and three strokes better than Nathan Kerns of Marshall.
After nailing a birdie on his second hole, Robledo hit a rough spell with a bogey on the fourth hole and a double-bogey on the par-3 sixth hole. However, he answered with consecutive birdies on the next two holes to rally for an even-par 36 on the front nine.
On his back nine, Robledo started on a rough note with a bogey on the 11th hole and added another bogey on the 14th hole after rebounding with a birdie on the 13th hole. However, he came on strong down the stretch, posting birdies on two of the last three holes for the first individual title of his collegiate career.
"This is something that we have wanted and have been working hard for," Robledo said. "When I made that last putt, all the hard work, the 6 a.m., workouts and all the practices finally paid off."
Robledo was part of a solid team effort from the Cougars, who placed four of their five student-athletes among the tournament's top-10 leaders.
Sophomore Kyle Pilgrim tied with Robledo for the team's low round of the day with a 71 and tied for 10th at 218. The Colleyville, Texas, native jumped out 3-under-par through the first 13 holes before enduring a double bogey on the 14th hole. However, Pilgrim recovered to post pars in each of the final four holes.
"We have a great group of guys, and we are very solid from top to bottom," Dismuke said. "Roman has standout ability, but all of our players are great. It was definitely a team effort. We pulled each other through coming down the stretch."
It was the Cougars' third team tournament title of the season and the sixth C-USA Championships title in school history. It also was the first league title for Dismuke.
"We have been talking about this and preparing for this for a long time," Dismuke said. "It was a culmination of a lot of hard work and lot of dedication and some good timing."
UCF (863), UAB (873), Marshall (878), No. 43 Tulsa (881), UTEP (883), Memphis (886), Southern Miss (891), East Carolina (900), Rice (902) and Old Dominion rounded out the field.
ALL TOURNAMENT TEAM
Champion: Roman Robledo, Houston
Bryson Dechambeau, SMU
Nathan Kerns, Marshall
Ricardo Gouveia, UCF
Mario Clemens, SMU
The Cougars will now wait to learn their NCAA postseason fate. The NCAA Regional field announcement will be made at 8 p.m., Monday, May 6 on NCAA.com during the NCAA.com Selection Show.
The Cougars, who are ranked No. 29 nationally in the latest GolfStat.com rankings, are set to advance to the NCAA Regionals for the second straight season. It will be the first time since 2000-01 that the Cougars competed in the NCAA postseason in consecutive years.
Monday, May 6, will be part of a busy day for Houston Golf. Earlier in the day, the Cougars will play host to the annual Dave Williams Pro-Am at The Woodlands Country Club. This wonderful event benefits Project 17 - the Houston Golf booster club - and the capital campaign for the Dave Williams Golf Academy at Redstone Golf Club.
Fans can receive the latest and notes and live scoring updates by following @UHCougarGolf on Twitter. Fans also can discuss the latest Houston Golf news and notes on the team's Facebook page at Facebook.com/HoustonCougarGolf.