Men’s golf eyes strong finish in final fall invitational

Senior Jin Song works on his swing during a Sept. 21 practice before the Pac-12 Preview. (Photo by Kyle Newman)

Following a letdown in the Alister MacKenzie Invitational last week, the ASU men’s golf team looks to get back on track in the Bill Cullum Invitational Oct. 22-23, the Sun Devils’ final fall invitational.

With a win-loss record of 21-31-1 on the season, the Sun Devils could use this event against a weakened field to jump over the .500 mark. Last season, ASU’s sub-.500 record caused them to miss out on the postseason for the first time since the 1980s.

“We absolutely need to finish top two or three in this tournament to put us in the position we need to be in for the .500 rule,” coach Tim Mickelson said.

Even a so-so performance in the Bill Cullum Invitational could have the Sun Devils above .500 on the season, and carrying momentum heading into winter break. Of the 20 schools competing, ASU is the third-highest ranked team, according to Golfweek.

“In my opinion, there’s only two teams that should be able to contend with us and that’s University of San Diego and Washington State,” Mickelson said. “The other teams, we should be able to beat without playing our ‘A-game.’”

This year against schools outside the Golfweek Top 100, ASU sports a record of 12-1. Fifteen schools in the invitational are ranked outside the top 100, and only ASU and Washington State are from traditional power conferences.

Another good omen for the Sun Devils is that they won the Bill Cullum Invitational last season behind former ASU golfer Spencer Fletcher’s individual win.

“The whole purpose in why we chose to come back to this tournament is to have a chance to win and to get a lot of wins,” Mickelson said.

Mickelson, as he has done after every invitational this season, made another change to the starting lineup.

Senior Jin Song will be making his first appearance of the season for the Sun Devils, replacing sophomore Austin Quick.

Song was a regular starter in the 2011-2012 season and had his highest finish place-wise at 27th in the Bill Cullum Invitational in 2011. Mickelson said Song’s experience was a reason why he was inserted in the lineup.

“We’ve just not been getting enough production out of the bottom spot in our lineup as we should,” Mickelson said. “Jin played the tournament last year, so you’ve got some experience on it and he’s been playing decent — fairly good in (intra-squad) qualifying. We thought this was the right time to put in the fifth-year senior and see what he can do for us.”

 

Note

- After the Bill Cullum Invitational, the next time ASU plays is Jan. 28-29, 2013, in the Arizona Invitational in Tucson.

- UA won its invitational last year, but ASU did not compete in it that season.

 

Reach the reporter at justin.janssen@asu.edu