An undermanned ASU men’s golf (Even-852) finished tied for fifth place with Texas Tech at The Prestige tournament in La Quinta, Calif., after a strong final round in which every Sun Devil shot under par.
Sophomore Alberto Sanchez suffered a back injury in workouts a couple weeks prior to the tournament and re-aggravated it on the way to La Quinta, according to coach Tim Mickelson. Sanchez withdrew before the first round.
Sophomore Max Rottluff (69-69-67) shot under par on every round, finishing the tournament 8 under par with a score of 205, good for the second-best individual score behind Stanford junior Patrick Rodgers. Junior Austin Quick (3-under 210) earned the 11th-best individual score in the tournament.
Mickelson said he was pleased with the play of the team and that playing understaffed could even have positive effects for the Sun Devils moving forward.
“Playing shorthanded but still beating some good teams like USC and Oregon proves that we are a good team and are heading in the right direction,” Mickelson said. “Being competitive despite playing a man down will naturally give our guys confidence heading into our next event.”
ASU’s fifth-place finish is the lowest it has finished in a tournament, but Mickelson said its strong end to the tournament is more indicative of how good this ASU squad really is.
“It really shows what our team is capable of, especially in pressure situations,” Mickelson said.
Mickelson said playing undermanned puts more stress on playing conservatively and playing for pars and birdies instead of taking unnecessary risks.
Due to the injury to Sanchez, ASU had to rely more heavily on all four of its remaining players to make contributions. Freshman Ki Taek Lee finished 5-over par with 218 and sophomore Trey Kaahanui shot 6-over par with 219.
The Prestige also marked the first tournament of the season for Kaahanui and Rottluff, who has been a member of the German National Team since 2009.
If there was a bright spot for the fifth-place finish for the Sun Devils, it’s that placing ahead of the USC could potentially help them in the NCAA rankings. The Trojans are currently ranked 24th and ASU is looking to get back into the top 25 after previously being ranked 21st.
The next tournament ASU competes in is the Southern Highlands College Masters in Las Vegas, from March 7 to March 9. After the Sun Devils’ trip to Las Vegas, the team will be headed back to Tempe to play in the ASU Thunderbird Invitational from March 21 to March 23.
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