The field is set for the 2010 NCAA Division II Men’s Golf Championship which begins Tuesday at the Sagamore Golf Club in Noblesville, Ind. After a sixth-place finish in the finals last year, the Cal State Stanislaus men’s team returns to the division’s biggest stage, looking to bring a championship back to Turlock behind Pac-10 transfer Brandon Taylor.
The Stanislaus men’s golf program is no stranger to success. The Warriors won 12 Division III titles, including separate six-year spans of consecutive championship seasons from 1976-81 and 1984-89. Though the program dominated D-III tournaments for much of that era, a Division II title has steadily eluded Warrior golfers since they jumped up a division in 1992.
Taylor and the rest of his teammates await a chance to change that next week in Indiana.
Taylor, whose father, Dana, is the Stanislaus men’s soccer coach, had to walk on to the Warriors golf team. He didn’t officially arrive in Turlock and the California Collegiate Athletic Association until the spring semester.
During fall 2009, he was busy taking classes in Corvallis, home of Oregon State, where he arrived as a freshman during the 2007-08 season and began to experience what he described as a “short-lived” career at OSU. Taylor sat out the 2008-09 season, as well as the fall portion of the 2009 season.
“I had a great time (at OSU) and it was definitely a huge part of my life,” said Taylor. “But my career as a golfer started (at Stanislaus) as far as I’m concerned.”
Taylor, who earned All-CCAA honors along with teammate Trevor Blair last month, transferred in the middle of the academic year, causing him to miss the team’s first four tournaments. But he wasted little time in making an impression on CCAA competition.
In his CSUS debut at the Elco Invitational in Bakersfield in late February, Taylor helped the Warriors earn their first tournament win of the season, shooting 2-over par for an individual seventh-place finish.
Two weeks later at the Hiddenbrooke Golf Club in Vallejo, Taylor captured top individual honors, separating himself from the next competitor by a margin of five strokes as Stanislaus finished second at the Cal State East Bay Pioneer Shootout. Taylor was named CCAA Golfer of the Week for his efforts.
“It was just one of those weeks where I was hitting the ball well and putts dropped,” he said. “The weather was so terrible that it became all about staying positive and staying focused and not letting the elements get to you.”
For the next month, Stanislaus seemed to be unstoppable, winning three consecutive tournaments, including a victory after hosting the Hanny Stanislaus Invitational in Turlock in mid-April.
The team followed that stretch with a second-place finish at the CCAA Championships in Paso Robles, qualifying the Warriors for the NCAA Super Regionals in Palm Desert. There, Taylor put on an inspiring performance.
Taylor, who shot a six-over par 78 on the first day, made up 11 strokes over the next two days, including a field-leading 5-under 67 on the final day to break even and help the Warriors secure their second straight national tournament.
Said Taylor of preparation for the finals: “It is the nationals, but if you place a special premium on this tournament, you put more pressure on yourself to try and force things to happen. So we’re treating it like it’s a normal tournament.”
The team leaves for Indiana on Sunday morning and will have a practice round on Monday before the big tournament gets underway on Tuesday.
“It’s going to be about finding the balance between playing aggressive and playing smart,” said Taylor.
“Hopefully, we can bring back that championship banner.”