M. Golf Defends Crown at Saint Mary's Invite
Oct. 26, 2016
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Bolstered by three top-six individual finishes, the San Diego State men's golf team captured its second tournament crown of the fall season at the Saint Mary's Invitational on Wednesday after shooting a 10-under-par 274 during the final round at Poppy Hills Golf Course.
With the result, the Aztecs successfully defended their team title from a year ago, completing the 54-hole tournament with a combined 1-over 853 to top host Saint Mary's (+13) by 12 strokes on the par-71, 6,927-yard layout.
"We came together as a team during the last two rounds and fought through a lot of adversity," said SDSU head coach Ryan Donovan. "Poppy Hills is an extremely challenging course, but nobody panicked. We remained patient and committed to our game plan, trying not to get everything back all at once."
The Aztecs narrowly missed boasting the individual winner as well after PJ Samiere (Kailua, Hawaii) climbed two places into the No. 2 position on the leaderboard after carding his second straight 67. The SDSU junior sank five birdies against one bogey, including an impressive drain on the par-3, 223-yard No. 15, which ranked as the fourth-toughest hole of the week.
With his round, Samiere finished at 2-under 211 for his second runner-up placement of the year, falling one stroke shy of the top spot as Eduardo Carrete of Saint Mary's (-3) took home medalist honors. Samiere pulled to within one shot of Carrete after recording the aforementioned birdie, but could draw no closer as both players made par on their final three holes.
Aztec senior Gunn Yang (Pyeongchang, South Korea) also crept into contention, jumping five places into the fourth spot at even-par 213 on the heels of a final-round 68. The 2014 U.S. Amateur champion notched his highest individual finish in a Scarlet and Black uniform, overcoming three bogeys on his first six holes with three birdies and a pair of eagles, including one on the par-5, 515-yard 18th, to land one stroke behind Arizona's George Cunningham (-1) for third place.
Fellow classmate Nahum Mendoza III (San Diego, Calif.) also displayed upward mobility on Wednesday, vaulting six places into the sixth position after firing a 70. The reigning Mountain West Player of the Year recorded just one birdie on the day, but eased the sting of two bogeys with a steady diet of 14 pars to go with an eagle on the par-5, 527-yard No. 10 to complete the 14th top-10 placement of his career at 3-over 216.
In just his second collegiate start, redshirt freshman Trevor Norby (Carlsbad, Calif.) also figured prominently in the Aztecs' fortunes on Wednesday, posting a season-best 69 to climb a whopping 33 places into a tie for 23rd at 10-over 223. The San Marcos High alumnus drained five birdies, including a successful conversion on the par-3, 179-yard 17th, which ranked as the third-toughest hole of the third round.
Conversely, Blake Abercrombie (Rocklin, Calif.) experienced the opposite fate, tumbling nine spots into a tie for 13th with an 8-over 221 after settling for a 77. The SDSU junior was just 1-over for the day after making birdie at No. 10, but three bogeys and a double-bogey on the back nine derailed his momentum.
The SDSU delegation also included sophomore Otto Vanhatalo (Espoo, Finland), an individual competitor who also saved his best for last, carding a final-round 72 to climb 10 places into a tie for 52nd at 16-over 229. The Torrey Pines High product logged three birdies on the day, featuring an impressive drain on the par-4, 414-yard No. 7, which ranked as the fifth-most difficult green of the tournament.
San Diego State will break from competition for the next three-and-a-half months before opening its 2017 spring slate at The Prestige at PGA West, Feb. 20-22, in La Quinta, Calif.
Saint Mary's Invitational
Team Scores (Top 5 of 14 teams)
Individual Leaders (Top 5 of 84 players + SDSU)
* - competed as an individual