In arguably the most competitive tournament of all the conferences in college golf, ASU finished fifth and sixth Sunday in the women’s and men’s Pac-12 golf championships, respectively.
The men’s team had to battle through a cruel combination of rain and wind to clinch the Territorial Cup Series, and coach Tim Mickelson said his team was affected by the weather.
“We’ve had to play in rain before, we’ve had to play in wind before, but yesterday’s conditions of wind and rain together was something we hadn’t seen much of this year,” Mickelson said. “We probably struggled more in those conditions than most of the schools.”
The first day of the Pac-12 Men’s Golf Championship included two rounds, although the second round was called off early when night fell. ASU would not get off to a strong start, shooting 19-over par collectively in the first round.
The second round, which was played on the first and second days of the tournament, would end up being the best round for ASU. The Sun Devils shot par for the round and three of the six ASU golfers either tied for or shot their best score. Sophomore Max Rottluff shot a 4-under 68 for the round, which would be the lowest individual round score for ASU on the tournament.
The Sun Devils would follow up their best round with their worst in the third round, shooting 24-over par for 384 as a team. If the Sun Devils were distraught, they did not show it on the field the next day as they had a 20-stroke improvement over the third round with a 364 on the final round of the tournament.
Mickelson said momentum is fickle in golf, and that was shown again this weekend.
“Golf in itself is frustrating,” Mickelson said. “The most frustrating part is seeing the guys play so well and then have a couple bad tee shots or unlucky breaks kill any momentum you may have.”
The final round saw a culmination of the erratic nature of momentum. Rottluff was 3-under par heading into the 13th hole of the Gallery Golf Club, but then went on to shoot back-to-back-to-back double bogeys bringing his fourth-round total to 3-over par.
In that same round, sophomore Jon Rahm had eagles on the seventh and eighth holes sandwiched by bogeys on the sixth and ninth.
ASU also relied on two freshmen playing their first Pac-12 tournaments, Blake Cannon and Nicolo Galletti. Mickelson liked what he saw from his freshmen.
“I was again impressed with Blake Cannon’s play. He’s played very solid for us the last three events, very steady. If he putted normal this week he would have been six-to-eight shots better,” Mickelson said. “Nicolo Galletti gave us a couple solid rounds in round two and round four. The freshmen played an important role in our play this week.”
Cannon finished the tournament 14-over par with 302 and Galletti finished 17-over par with 305. Junior Austin Quick (7-over 295) led the Sun Devils in scoring and junior Broc Johnson (13-over 301) also competed for ASU.
The Territorial Cup Series is nice, but Mickelson said there was a lot left to be desired about how they performed.
“The team is excited about winning the Territorial Cup but none of us are content with our finish,” Mickelson said. “We will be working hard to be prepared for the NCAA regionals in a couple weeks.”
Unlike the men’s team, the women’s team saw its best round come in the first day of the Pac-12 Women’s Golf Championship, shooting 3-over par for 291. ASU went on to score 296 on the second and third rounds, and finished one stroke ahead of Washington for fifth place.
The Sun Devils were led all weekend by junior Noemi Jimenez (even at 216) and freshman Monica Vaughn (1-over 217). Vaughn would have the best round scores for ASU on the first (2-under 70) and third (1-under 71) rounds while Jimenez shot a 70 on the second round to lead the team.
Junior Emilie Alonso (7-over 223), and seniors Justine Lee (11-over 227) and Laura Blanco (14-over 230) filled out the rest of the ASU roster.
NCAA regionals begin for the women’s team on May 8 while the men will have to wait until May 15 for theirs to start.
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