The ASU men’s golf team showed that home really is where the heart is.
The team finished seven strokes ahead of second place Iowa on the first day of the ASU Thunderbird Invitational. Two Sun Devils finished in the top-three for individual scoring.
Sophomore Jon Rahm finished the day 9-under par with a score of 62 and the clear lead in individual score. Freshman Ki Taek Lee shot a 67, which was tied for third best.
ASU coach Tim Mickelson said the correlation between individual success and team success is not unexpected.
“Oftentimes that happens where one player plays really well and basically propels the team and that’s certainly what happened with Jon today,” Mickelson said. “Jon shooting 9-under obviously really helped.”
Other Sun Devil finishes include sophomore Max Rottluff (1-under 70), junior Broc Johnson (1-over 72) and junior Austin Quick (3-over 74).
Perhaps it is the amount of practice that the Sun Devils have with the ASU Karsten course that led to their success, but Mickelson said he thinks it might also have to do with the team’s current state of mind.
“We had the same situation last year and we just didn’t play well. We are in a different place mentally right now because last year we were in a stressful situation with where we were and whether or not we were going to get into regionals,” Mickelson said. “We were certainly more comfortable today than last year, it’s still the same golf course.”
This is the 42nd time ASU has hosted this event and it has won 15 times, most recently in 2009. Mickelson said his players were not fazed by the pressure of hosting the event.
“Whether or not you can actually perform the way you want on those three days you are here is a whole other thing,” Mickelson said. “That’s where the pressure and the stress of hosting comes in for those guys. To their credit they played very solid today and got off to a decent start and kept going.”
The schools ASU is hosting for the Thunderbird Invitational are Iowa, Iowa State, San Diego, Wichita State, Denver, Arizona, New Mexico State, Colorado State, Pepperdine, Washington State, Tulsa, St. John’s, Hawaii and Fresno State.
There were also five members of the ASU team playing individually. Freshman Blake Cannon (2-under 69), sophomore Trey Kaahanui (1-under 70), freshman Nicolo Galletti (1-under 70), Ben Shur (3-over 74) and junior Mathias Schjoelberg (7-over 78).
The Sun Devils will look to continue their momentum when they begin the second day of the tournament nice and early on Saturday at 7:30 a.m. on the ASU Karsten golf course.
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