J.J. Spaun Claims Second-Straight Thunderbird Invite Title
April 10, 2011
San Diego State junior J.J. Spaun carded a birdie on the 18th hole to win the Thunderbird Invitational for the second consecutive season Sunday at the par-71, 7,057-yard Karsten Golf Course on the campus of Arizona State.
Spaun was two strokes off the lead heading into the day, but won the title with his final-round 4-under 67 to edge out second place Nick Delio of Cal State Northridge by a single stroke, ending the tournament at 7-under 206 with three straight sub-par efforts. He joins former ASU standout Phil Mickelson (1991-92) as the only players to win back-to-back titles in the 39-year history of the event.
With Delio, the day-one leader, already in the clubhouse at 6-under par, Spaun (San Dimas, Calif.) bogeyed the 16th hole and notched a par on the 17th to tie for first place. He then needed at least a birdie to earn medalist honors outright, which he ended up doing, despite the fact that just a round earlier he double bogeyed the 18th, snapping a streak of 127 consecutive holes played without worse than a bogey.
Spaun also won the 2010 Thunderbird Invitational title in dramatic fashion, outdueling Washington's Chris Williams with a birdie on the first playoff hole after the pair tied in regulation at 8-under 205. Each of Spaun's career individual titles have come at the Thunderbird Invite and he joins classmate Alex Kang (Oak Park, Calif.) as the second Aztec to finish first at a tournament in 2010-11. Spaun continues to have a phenomenal spring slate with four top-five finishes in seven events leading to a pair of Mountain West Conference player-of-the-month awards.
As a team, fourth-ranked San Diego State was unable to catch No. 23 USC, as the Trojans had a nine-stroke lead entering the final 18 holes and ended up winning by 14 with a 15-under 837. The Aztecs were at 1-under 851, including a final-round 284, but still posted their sixth top-three finish in their seven spring outings.
SDSU junior Colin Featherstone (Fallbrook, Calif.), who was competing individually, joined Spaun in the top 20 with a 68 on Sunday to vault from 37th into a tie for 16th place at 2-over 215. Senior Johan Carlsson (Gothenburg, Sweden) improved his score for the second consecutive round with his 1-under 70 and logged a 217 to tie for 27th place.
The Aztecs' final three participants each fell on the final individual leaderboard, as Kang dropped six slots into a tie for 35th with a 218, freshman Todd Baek (Auckland, New Zealand) ended up 45th with a 221 and sophomore Tom Berry (New Haw, England) came in 55th among the 75 golfers with a 223.
San Diego State will have one final tournament to prepare for next month's conference championships, as it returns to California for the Western Intercollegiate in Santa Cruz, April 16-17.
Scores with relation to par, April 10, 2011, at the Barona Collegiate Cup played at the par-71, 7,057-yard in ASU Karsten Golf Course in Tempe, Ariz.
Final Team Scores - 54 holes (Top 6 of 13 teams)
Top Five Individuals (Top 5 of 75 players)
Other San Diego State Golfers
* = playing as an individual