Senior Ryan Peterson and the rest of the CSU menâ€™s golf team open their Mountain West Conference Championship title defense today at the OMNI Tuscon National Resort. The Rams are in search of their third conference title in program history, having won two in the past three seasons.
CSU enters the conference tournament on a high note, having won the Cougar Classic in Provo, Utah on April 16.
â€œI think itâ€™s kind of a shot in the arm,â€ said head coach Jamie Bermel of the win in Provo. â€œYou can get in a good rhythm and a good feeling from winning.â€
The Rams trailed UNLV by seven strokes entering the final round but shot 17 strokes under par while the Runninâ€™ Rebels recorded their worst round of the tournament to leave the door open.
â€œ(UNLV is) one of the better teams in the conference,â€ Peterson said. â€œSo obviously winning last week was big for us and gives us a lot of momentum going into this tournament.â€
Currently the Rams are ranked 65th nationally, but know that anything is possible after winning last season.
â€œWeâ€™re just looking forward to getting out there and trying to defend,â€ Peterson said.
Peterson is ranked second on the MWC menâ€™s leader board, shooting an average round of 71.67 this season with a low round of 67. He trails only BYUâ€™s sophomore Zac Blair in average score.
The tournament will be played in Tucson, Ariz. for the fourth straight year, on the par-71, 7,144-yard Catalina Course. The course was designed by Robert Van Hagge and Bruce Devlin and was selected as one of the â€œ75 Best Golf Resorts in North Americaâ€ by Golf Digest.
â€œItâ€™s a lot like Fort Collins Country Club,â€ Bermel said. â€œIt has trees, water sand, so itâ€™s something that weâ€™re pretty familiar with.â€
It is a Parkland style course with eight lakes and 80 bunkers. The par-4, 443 yard 18th hole is â€œconsidered to be one of the finest and most challenging finishing holes on the PGA Tour,â€ according to the Tucson National web site.
â€œOur team likes this course, I like this course,â€ Peterson said. â€œFor some reason it sets up well for us, and we always seem to play well (here).â€
On paper, San Diego State is the favorite entering the tournament, ranked eighth nationally by Golfweek and possessing four of the top 10 players in the MWC. The Aztecs have finished second in the conference tournament the past two years but enter the tournament with five titles from the regular season, including the Arizona Invitational, which was held at Tucson National in March.
â€œWeâ€™ve had a good run winning two out of the last three (conference titles),â€ Bermel said. â€œThe targetâ€™s kind of on our back, but thatâ€™s not a terrible thing to have, I guess.â€
Menâ€™s Golf Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at email@example.com.