ASU men’s golf aiming for UA in tournament

It’s been 31 years since the inaugural Arizona Intercollegiate Invitational was held in Tucson. The ASU men’s golf team brought the crown back to Tempe in 1981 and has done it four more times since.

Most of those victories were during the 1980s and early 1990s. The team is now on a 20-year drought in Tucson.

The ASU men’s golf team will kick-off the spring 2013 season at the Arizona Intercollegiate Invitational in Tucson, hosted by the Wildcats.

Coach Tim Mickelson said his team is poised to have more succes in Tucson this .

“Our number one goal is to beat UA,” Mickelson said. “Goal number two is to win or at least finish in the top three.”

The Sun Devils’ attempt to rise to prominence in this year’s NCAA men’s golf rankings officially starts Monday. They are currently ranked No. 72.

The 54-hole tournament is to be played at The Golf Club at Vistoso. It is a par 71, 18-hole course that stretches more than 6,900 yards.

The field for the invitational will consist of 15 teams from around the country: ASU, No. 1 California, Cal State Fullerton, Central Arkansas, Kennesaw State, No. 18 Liberty, No. 4 New Mexico, New Mexico State, Pepperdine, Santa Clara, TCU, UC-Riverside, Utah, UTEP and host UA.

After a 90-hole qualifier consisting of five 18-hole rounds, Mickelson and new assistant coach Joe Prince selected their top five players to compete in the team side of the competition.

ASU will send freshmen golfers Jon Rahm Rodriguez, Max Rottluff and Alberto Sanchez, sophomore Austin Quick and junior Spencer Lawson.

Two additional Sun Devils will participate in the tournament as individual entrants.

Sophomore Brandon Cloete, who will be donning the maroon and gold for the first time after missing his freshman campaign, will also compete along with sophomore Mathias Schjoelberg.

With collegiate the tournaments that the young golfers experienced in the fall season, Mickelson is assured that his team is ready to make a run at the top spot.

“Most guys came back playing well, and they’re looking sharper,” Mickelson said. “Based on the tough courses we’ve played over the weeks, I’m pleased.”

Mickelson said he’s noticed nice improvements in the games of Lawson, Quick and Rottluff.

“All of the differences are slight,” Mickelson said. “But a slight improvement can make a huge difference in the game of golf.”

As the team exits a bit of a rebuilding mode, Mickelson sees a bright future with the collective talent of the guys on his team as it all begins at UA.

 

Reach the reporter at adrian.martinez.1@asu.edu