On Monday the CSU men’s golf team will tee off in its third California tournament in two weeks at the Aztec Invitational in San Diego.
The two-day, 54-hole tournament will be hosted by San Diego State University, which invited 16 teams. Five of the 16 are ranked in the top 50 in the nation by Golfweek magazine, including New Mexico (6), Denver (28), San Diego State (45), Fresno State (47) and the red-hot Rams at No. 43.
Other teams include Mountain West Conference rival BYU, Hawaii, Louisville, Ohio State, Texas A&M, Texas-El Paso and Washington State.
CSU is coming off of its best finish of the season at the Fresno State Lexus Classic where it carded an 11-under, 875 and took third place. The Rams were lead by senior Geoff Nuwash, who is the only golfer to have a lower score than CSU junior Nolan Martin this season.
That is saying a lot considering Martin is currently ranked No. 47 in the nation, and is one of only three Mountain West players in the top 50. Nuwash hit a one-under, 215 that put him in a three-way tie for third. Martin was right behind him, breaking even with a 216 in 12th place.
Martin was very pleased the outstanding play of the team.
“We clicked and played well in the last tournament,” Martin said. “We definitely think we can do that well again.”
Juniors Martin Laird and Brett Tobyne, and freshman Kevin McAlpine, will accompany Nuwash and Martin to complete the five-man CSU team.
As the end of the fall season approaches, the team is relying on strong play from each individual and team unity to beat other teams.
“Our last tournament went well because we got good play out of Geoff Nuwash. He has been really solid,” head coach Jamie Bermel said. “We hope to play that well again. I switched some things and put Kevin McAlpine in the line-up and that should work well.”
One problem that the Rams have had this season is not starting strong and having to dig out of holes that are sometimes too hard to get out of. At the Tucker Invitational in early September, CSU shot 18-over par in its first two rounds to put it in 12th place at the end of the first day. The Rams came back the final day and shot a four-under to finish in sixth place.
At the Pepperdine Club Glove, they carded a 305 on the first day to land them in 11th place, then hit a 297 in the last round and moved up to ninth.
Even at the last tournament, CSU shot a 294 and 291 respectively in the first two rounds and had to come back with a 290 in the concluding round to hang on to third place.
If the Rams expect to keep finishing in the top five, they must put together consistent rounds of good golf.
With the third place finish at the Lexus Classic and a ninth place finish at the Pepperdine Club Glove, the Rams seem to play higher quality rounds of golf under the California sun.
They will get two more chances to prove their skill with the Aztec Invitational, and when they wrap up the season at “The Nelson” tournament, hosted by Stanford in Palo Alto, California Oct. 25-26.