Chico State's Scott Raber was 5 under par through 13 holes Tuesday at Valley Hi Country Club and 9 under for the tournament in the final round of the Sacramento State Invitational.
Playing in the final threesome of the 14-team, 54-hole college golf tournament, the Davis High School graduate held a one-shot lead.
Heady stuff for a redshirt freshman ranked No. 4 on his five-player Division II team facing 13 D-I squads and for a guy who had not finished under par in a college event and made the starting lineup for just three of the Wildcats' six tournaments this season.
Bogeys on Nos. 14 (pulled tee shot into a bunker), No. 15 (pushed tee shot behind a tree) and No. 16 (three-putt from 18 feet) ended Raber's shot at victory but sent notice that the future is bright.
"I was finally able to put together three rounds," the El Macero resident said. "There are a lot of positives."
UC Santa Barbara's Glen Scher won the tournament, closing with a 1-under 71 for a three-round total of 8-under 208. Adam Goins of South Carolina Upstate (70-209) was second and Raber (70-210) was third.
Santa Barbara was the team winner, the Gauchos' 11-under 853 eight shots clear of Cal State Fullerton. Chico State (865) was third. Host Sacramento State finished seventh, 20 shots off the pace.
Scher's victory came with an unexpected anxious moment. After hitting a wedge within tap-in range for a birdie on No. 17, Scher carried a two-shot lead to the straight-away par-5 closing hole. A perfect drive, a perfect layup and a solid third shot put him 20 feet above the hole.
Needing three putts to win, Scher left his first attempt four feet short and ran his second attempt three feet past before making his bogey putt.
Raber, 20, had a love affair with basketball and didn't make a commitment to golf until he was a high school senior. As such, he wasn't highly recruited and doesn't have the competitive experience of most of his rivals.
It's been years since he was as under the gun as he was Tuesday, but he held up OK, hitting the first 11 greens in regulation before wobbling.
"I wouldn't say nerves got into my swings, but the putts that were falling started burning the edges," he said.
Chico State freshman Lee Gearhart (Woodcreek High School) tied for 17th.
Sac State started the final round 12 shots behind and failed to make a dent on its deficit. Dealing with the expectations of playing host, "the boys were just a little frustrated," coach Chris Hall said.
Ryan Williams (70-217) finished 11th for the Hornets.
Sac State hosted a tournament for the first time in more than a decade, and Hall said the event was all good.
"There was a very positive buzz," he said.
The team has a five-year contract with Valley Hi.
Call The Bee's Steve Pajak, (916) 326-5526.