After two underwhelming performances to start the season, the ASU men’s golf team finally showcased its potential in a fifth place finish at the Pac-12 Preview in North Plains, Ore.
“What we finally saw is part of what we’re capable of,” ASU coach Tim Mickelson said. “Certainly the players who played No. 1 (freshman John Rahm Rodriguez) and No. 2 (freshman Alberto Sanchez) played solid and gave scores that we expected them to produce.”
After a sluggish start, Rahm Rodriguez nearly captured the individual title at the Witch Hollow Golf Course. Rahm Rodriguez ended round one of three 10 strokes behind the leader at five-over with three double-bogeys, coupled with three more bogeys.
Rahm Rodriguez stormed back by shooting an eight-under 64 second round and a seven-under 65 in the third round. Both rounds were better than any other golfer’s round in all three rounds of the Pac-12 Preview. In his final 39 holes, Rahm carded only two bogeys.
Mickelson said Rahm Rodriguez’s performance was extremely impressive, and the score was magnified even more because he is a freshman.
Rahm Rodriguez’s second round included two eagles and five birdies. In the final round, Rahm Rodriguez birdied his last two holes, but eventually finished one stroke behind the individual victor, Washington junior Trevor Simsby.
What impressed Mickelson the most was that Rahm Rodriguez played two consecutive rounds at such an exceptional level.
“Everyone on the team is capable of shooting a 64 or 65,” Mickelson said. “They don’t usually come (in) back-to-back rounds, because it’s tough to do. He was the lowest man at our last tournament, so he earned the right to play at the No. 1 spot.
As a team, ASU tied for fifth place overall with Oregon State. In the Pac-12 championship last spring, ASU finished in 11th place. The Pac-12 Preview was not held last fall.
In the Pac-12, a fifth-place finish is something a team can be comfortable with, considering the depth of the conference and the high level of play from the elite schools.
“Of the four teams we lost to, three are currently (ranked) in the top five of the country and the fourth being USC, (who) had not played a tournament yet, but they’re a top-12, top-15 team in the country,” Mickelson said.
Rodriguez Rahm carried the bulk of the load for ASU, but Sanchez also carded a strong performance at four-under, placing 14th on the individual ladder.
Sophomore Mathias Schjoelberg finished eight-over, sophomore Austin Quick was nine-over and junior Spencer Lawson shot 13-over after a disappointing nine-over final round.
In the Pac-12 Preview, ASU was without freshman Max Rottluff, who competed for Germany in the World Amateur Golf Championships in Turkey.
“Any time you have the opportunity to play for your country, it’s something special,” Mickelson said. “We were certainly more than happy to let him go down there and play and represent Germany.”
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