ASU golf coach Tim Mickelson expects a challenge at Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters

Usually, people go to Las Vegas during spring break, not the weekend before. The ASU men’s golf team will be heading north to compete in the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters from March 7 to March 9.

Heading to Nevada will be juniors Austin Quick and Broc Johnson, alongside sophomores Max Rottluff, Jon Rahm and Trey Kaahanui. Rottluff is looking to continue his strong play following a second-place individual finish at The Prestige.

Coach Tim Mickelson said he expects his Sun Devils to make the postseason push starting with this tournament.

 

 

“I fully expect us to play well, but with this field, playing well might even mean finishing fifth or sixth as a team,” Mickelson said. “I’m not saying we can’t win the event, because we can, but any top-10 team finish will improve our national ranking and at the same time better prepare our players for the postseason.”

ASU has four more tournaments until the Pac-12 Men’s Golf Championships in April, which will be played in Marana, Ariz., just north of Tucson.

The last time ASU competed in the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters was in 2012, when it finished in eighth place. Quick, who also played in 2012, will be playing the tournament again this year.

To prepare for the greens at the Collegiate Masters, there has been an emphasis made in practice to play on fast greens. On faster greens, the ball rolls farther distances which really affects putting.

ASU will be entering Las Vegas coming off of a fifth-place finish it shared with Texas Tech at The Prestige in late February. The Sun Devils have earned top-five finishes in six of the seven tournaments they have played this season.

After the trip to Las Vegas, ASU will look forward to playing in the familiar surroundings of Tempe when it plays in the ASU Thunderbird Invitational starting March 21.

Mickelson said his team will be focused following spring break.

“After Las Vegas, the guys will get the week off to relax during spring break, but everyone will be back that Saturday morning to start our preparations for our home event,” Mickelson said. “We will be playing the ASU Karsten course a few times with the same hole locations that we will see in the tournament. That way we have a nice advantage of knowledge over everyone else. We expect to win our home event this year.”

But Mickelson isn’t looking too far past the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters, because he knows it will be a challenge.

“It will be the toughest test we face all year, until we get to the National Championship,” he said.

Reach the reporter at hkossodo@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @HKossodo