The journey to Grayhawk and the national championship is well under way as the ASU men’s golf team claimed victory Wednesday in the Southwest Intercollegiate at North Ranch Country Club in Westlake Village, California. The team won by a decisive 12-under, while junior David Puig made history becoming the first ever to win back-to-back in the tournament.
The team's overall score of 30-under set a new tournament record and ASU's ninth total victory at the course extends the team's record. The Sun Devil men's golf team had not won at North Ranch since 2001, and its last individual winner was Paul Casey in 1998.
Senior Cameron Sisk was on his way to claim the individual win but went one over par for four out of five holes toward the end of his third round to finish tied for second, clearing way for Puig to go seven under par on his third round to become the fourth two-time winner ever.
"I know we had a six shot lead to start the day and I trust these guys a lot, I know they are really really good, they practice so hard too, so I was pretty relaxed the whole day and we did awesome as a team," Puig said in a post-match interview with the Golf Channel.
The tournament of 12 included six of the top-20 ranked teams in the nation according to the Bushnell/Golfweek DI Coaches Poll: No. 2 Arizona State, host No. 5 Pepperdine, No. 9 Texas, No. 12 Wake Forest, No.16 Georgia and No. 20 Washington. Eight of the nation's top-50 amateur golfers were featured in the competition as well, including No. 10 Sisk and No. 28 freshman Preston Summerhays.
After dropping the team victory to San Diego State last year by just three strokes, this year's team sealed the deal to become the 11th out of the past 14 teams to sweep the individual and team wins at North Ranch.
"There was a disappointment exactly a year ago here … where we had a chance to win one and we didn't quite get it done. But we win a lot of tournaments, this was just one that we really wanted to finish off better this time and I'm so proud of these guys, we played awesome for three days," head coach Matt Thurmond said in a post-match interview with the Golf Channel.
Although Sisk was able to finish with a solid score of six under par, the senior was visibly distraught with his performance walking off the green. His teammates and coaches gave him fist bumps and consoling words as he then solemnly autographed a hat for a fan and left with his head down.
Summerhays continued his remarkable freshman season turnaround, finishing tied for sixth at four under par and has now finished top-10 in his last three amateur stroke-play competitions. Summerhays' recent play has been so notable he was recently the first of five golfers to receive a sponsor's exception to participate in the 2022 Waste Management Phoenix Open, which runs from Feb. 7-13.
"I learned that I can hang with these college guys. I've played well in a couple events, and I know I can improve some aspects of my game, I'm just pumped with how I played and how our team played and excited to have gotten the win," Summerhays said in a post-match interview with the Golf Channel.
Graduate student Mason Andersen finished tied for tenth with a two under par score, his best finish for the Sun Devils this season. After a disappointing opening to the season, Andersen appears to be heading back to form coming off a tied for third finish in the Patriot All-America Invitational in December.
"(The coaches) actually took the focus off of winning, it was kinda nice to hear. Basically, just go do your own thing, put the ball in the right spots, don't make too many mistakes and winning will just happen," Andersen said in a post-match interview with the Golf Channel.
When he was asked if ASU is one of the teams to beat later in the spring, Andersen did not hesitate to answer.
"I think so. I think we have nine players that can perform. We only travel with five, but yeah, I think we have one of the better teams in college golf for sure."
The squad will look to keep its winning ways when it heads to Hapuna Golf Club in Kona, Hawaii, to compete in the Amer Ari Invitational from Feb. 3-5. Last year, Puig came out on top at the Amer Ari Invitational.
Justin Spangenthal is a reporter for The State Press, currently covering Men's Golf and Track and Field. Justin transferred to ASU last January and is planning to graduate Fall '23. He is passionate about journalism and hopes to one day launch his own media outlet.