M. Golf Set for Spring Opener in Arizona

Otto Vanhatalo and the Aztecs will open their spring slate next week in Tucson.
Jan. 27, 2018

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SAN DIEGO -- After a three-and-a-half month break from competition, the San Diego State men's golf team opens its spring schedule next week when it heads to the desert for the Arizona Intercollegiate, Jan. 29-30, at Sewailo Golf Club in Tucson, Ariz.

The two-day, 54-hole tournament is slated to commence on Monday with the first two rounds in shotgun start, beginning at 8:15 a.m. MT/7:15 a.m. PT, while the final 18 holes are scheduled for a Tuesday completion on the par-71, 7,292-yard course layout. A live scoring link, courtesy of Golfstat, will be available on GoAztecs.com.

Along with No. 38 SDSU, the highly competitive tournament features eight additional schools ranked among the Golfstat top 75, including Texas A&M(4), Baylor (5), California (15), Santa Clara (25), Brigham Young (32), Saint Mary's (42), host Arizona (53), Washington (72) and Iowa State (74). The Aztecs will also cross paths with Mountain West rival New Mexico, while Denver, Louisiana Tech, Loyola Marymount, New Mexico State, South Dakota State, UTEP and UTSA round out the 18-team field.

SDSU head coach Ryan Donovan will lead a contingent of nine golfers to the "Old Pueblo," including the starting lineup of PJ Samiere (Kailua, Hawaii), Blake Abercrombie (Rocklin, Calif.), Trevor Norby (Carlsbad, Calif.), Otto Vanhatalo (Espoo, Finland) and Puwit Anupansuebsai (Nakhon Phanom, Thailand).

In addition, Zihao Jin (Beijing, China), Pablo Matesanz (Irun, Spain), Steve Sugimoto (San Diego, Calif.) will compete as unattached golfers in the auxiliary Arizona Medalist Intercollegiate, along with Christian Banke (Danville, Calif.), who joined the Aztecs at the semester break. The Arizona Medalist Intercollegiate will be held at the par-72, 6,902-yard Randolph North Golf Course.

Samiere was SDSU's top finisher in four of five tournaments during the fall schedule, recording a team-high 69.67 scoring average, which ranked second in the Mountain West. The Aztec senior finished alone in fourth place at the William H. Tucker Intercollegiate in New Mexico, followed by a solo fifth-place effort at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational in northern California, where he shot a career-best 12-under 201.

Abercrombie enjoyed a successful fall campaign as well, averaging 71.20 strokes in 15 rounds to go with a pair of top-20 placements. The SDSU senior finished sixth out of 110 competitors at the Warrior Princeville Makai Invitational in Kauai, Hawaii, where he carded a career-best 16-under 200 to lift the Scarlet and Black to a second-place team finish.

Norby (72.67), meanwhile, was the only other Aztec to start all five events last fall, highlighted by a personal-best eighth-place standing in Hawaii, where he carded a collegiate-low 12-under 204. The San Marcos High alumnus fired a final-round 63 in the event, tying for the third-lowest 18-hole score in program history.

A Torrey Pines High product, Vanhatalo will be making his third varsity start in an Aztec uniform and first of the season. The SDSU junior has played in just one event this season as an unattached competitor at the Gopher Individual tournament last September, where he tied for 21st at 15-over 231.

The Aztecs came away with the team title at the Arizona Intercollegiate the last time they played in the tournament in the spring of 2011. SDSU had three top-15 finishers that season at Arizona National Golf Club, including Todd Baek (3rd, (-2)), Alex Kang (T-7th, (+3)) and J.J. Spaun (T-14th, (+5)). The Scarlet and Black was also triumphant at the event in 1983 when Gregg Twiggs (-8) captured medalist honors at Randolph Park Golf Course.

The Arizona Intercollegiate is entering its fifth straight season at Sewailo after a 10-year run at Arizona National (2003-12) followed by a stop at The Golf Club at Vistoso in 2013. With last year's top-two finishing teams Oregon and Pepperdine skipping this season's tournament, Washington is the top returning school after posting a third-place performance in 2017, followed by Texas A&M and New Mexico.

Following the Arizona Intercollegiate, San Diego State returns to the fairways for The Prestige at PGA West, Feb. 19-21, La Quinta, Calif.

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