LITCHFIELD PARK, Ariz. — Though his 16th-place finish in a prestigious field of golfers was a strong accomplishment, it was the chance to honor a fallen soldier that made UC Davis junior Matt Hansen’s appearance at the 2012 Patriot All-America tournament so special.
At the 54-hole tournament, which ended Monday with Sebastian Cappelen of Arkansas taking the title, each player carried a golf bag embroidered with the name of a fallen soldier from the player’s home state. Hansen honored Army Staff Sgt. David H. Gutierrez of San Francisco, who died Dec. 25, 2009, in Afghanistan in an insurgent attack. Gutierrez was survived by his wife, Patty, and three sons.
The bag later will be auctioned off by UCD, with proceeds benefiting the Folds of Honor Charity.
“It’s a very special event, not just from the prestige of the field made up of All-American golfers, but also from the aspect of honoring our great patriots that have served our country,” Aggie coach Cy Williams said before the event. “We are honored that Matt is representing UC Davis and very proud of Matt for earning his way into this event. He is very excited to participate.”
Players in the stroke-play tournament at The Wigwam Golf Course were selected by the Golf Coaches Association of America primarily based upon PING All-America honors from NCAA Divisions I, II and III, along with the NAIA and NJCAA D-I and D-II. Other elite amateur players, including representatives of the armed service academies, are included.
Hansen was selected for the inaugural event last season but was unable to play.
At the 2012 event, he got off to a good start with an even-par 70. Hansen posted a 72 in Round 2 then, with his 73 on Monday, finished the tournament at 5-over par.
Hansen leads the UCD golf team — which is on a break until Feb. 6 — with a 71.6 stroke average and had a season-best eighth-place finish at Northwestern’s Windon Memorial Classic.