Mendoza Advances to Final Medal Round at NCAAs
May 29, 2016
EUGENE, Ore. – San Diego State’s Nahum Mendoza III (San Diego, Calif.) advanced to the final round of medal play at the NCAA Championships on Sunday after completing the third round in ninth place with a combined score of even-par 210 at Eugene Country Club. Despite carding a 74 on the third day of competition, the Aztec junior made the cut as one of the top nine finishing individuals not on an advancing school from the field that was trimmed to 15 squads.
As a team, SDSU lost ground for the second straight round, tumbling an additional 10 places into the 25th position at 32-over 572. The Aztecs were hovering near the team cut line through nine holes, but were unable generation momentum, draining just four birdies to finish the day with a 17-over 297.
“It was very frustrating the way we came out today,” said Aztec head coach Ryan Donovan. “We were still in contention to make the top-15 cut with seven holes to play, but we didn’t execute. It’s definitely disappointing; we had higher expectations for sure. We just have to rebound and learn from this.”
Second-round leader Vanderbilt (+5) maintained its perch atop the standings on Sunday, while Texas (+7) vaulted five places into the No. 2 spot after shooting a 3-under 277, surpassing USC (+10), LSU (+11) and Oregon (+12) on the par-70, 7,014-yard layout.
Despite logging just two birdies on the day, Mendoza wound up as the fourth-highest placing golfer from a non-advancing team, ultimately securing a spot in the final round of stroke play Monday. Starting on the 10th tee, the reigning Mountain West Player of the Year, reeled off five pars on his first six holes, but suffered an untimely double-bogey on the par-3 16th after his tee shot sailed out of bounds over the green. Stung, the SDSU junior bogeyed No. 17 before sinking his first birdie of the afternoon on the par-4 18th. He also added another birdie after the turn at No. 8, but bogeys on the third and ninth greens hastened his drop out of a tie for second place.
Still, Mendoza remains in the hunt for the individual national championship, sitting six shots behind Oregon’s Aaron Wise, who catapulted to the top of the leaderboard at 6-under 204 after firing a tournament-low 64 on Sunday. Matthias Schwab of Vanderbilt occupies the second spot at 4-under 206, while Texas’ Beau Hossler (-3) lurks in third, followed by a four-way logjam for fourth. Mendoza is slated to tee off on Monday at 12:40 p.m. PT on the first tee, along with the College of Charleston’s William Rainey and Antoine Rozner of UMKC.
“Nahum’s is a great player and he’s had a great season,” Donovan said. “He’s still in contention to win this thing. He’s going to play aggressive and use his speed out there. He’s got nothing to lose. We’re very proud of him. He’s got a great work ethic, especially coming into today. He didn’t play his best, but he was grinding out there. He has a shot.”
SDSU’s best round of the day was turned in by Ryann Ree (Redondo Beach, Calif.), who carded a 73 to finish the tournament at 10-over 220. The two-time all-Mountain West selection endured a rough start with three bogeys on his first four holes to go with a double at No. 17. The Aztec senior turned things around with bogey-free golf after the turn, sinking birdies on the first and fifth greens before closing with four straight pars. With his strong finish, Ree managed to climb eight places into a tie for 85th.
PJ Samiere (Kailua, Hawaii) got off to a fast start with a birdie on the par-4, 395-yard 10th, but was unable to record a circle on his scorecard the rest of the way after four bogeys and a triple on No. 18 derailed his momentum. The Aztec sophomore regrouped with eight pars after the turn, but still had to settle for a third-round 76, landing in a tie for 103rd at 12-over 222 in his second straight NCAA appearance.
After a disastrous 81 on Saturday, Gunn Yang (Pyeongchang, South Korea) shaved seven strokes off his score during round three, carding a 74 to jump seven spots in the standings into a tie for 146th at 230. The SDSU sophomore was 1-under after 14 holes, offsetting a bogey at No. 11 and a double on the 17th with four birdies, including back-to-back conversions at the turn on No. 18 and No. 1. Yang followed with three straight pars, but limped down the stretch, posting three bogeys and a double on his final five greens.
The Aztecs were also represented by senior Riccardo Michelini (Carpi, Italy), who logged his second straight 77, wrapping up his collegiate career in a tie for 112th at 13-over 223. Michelini was just 1-over for the day after draining a birdie on the 18th, but had his progress stymied on the back with six straight bogeys on holes 2-7.
Despite the travails, San Diego State still completed another successful season, winning two tournament titles to go along with eight additional top-five team finishes while three players, Mendoza, Michelini and Ree, garnered all-conference and all-region accolades.
2016 NCAA Championships
Team Scores (Top 15 of 30 schools + SDSU)
Individual Leaders (Top 7 of 156 players + SDSU)
* - Advanced to Monday’s fourth round as individuals