Men’s Golf Seeks Three-Peat at Saint Mary’s Invite
Nov. 3, 2017
SAN DIEGO – The San Diego State men’s golf team closes off its fall schedule next week when it participates in the Saint Mary’s Invitational, Nov. 6-8, at the famed Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach, California.
The Aztecs, who are the two-time defending tournament champions, will be making their third consecutive appearance at the three-day, 54-hole event, which commences Monday morning on the par-71, 7,002-yard layout. The action gets underway with tee times as early as 7:30 a.m. PT on all three days, with a live scoring link courtesy of Golfstat available on GoAztecs.com.
San Diego State, ranked 51st in the latest Golfstat index, will battle seven top-50 schools in Stanford (13), Santa Clara (20), Colorado State (21), Brigham Young (24), USC (33), Arizona (46) and host Saint Mary’s (50). In addition, the Aztecs will square off against two other Mountain West adversaries in Fresno State and Nevada, while Oregon State, San Francisco, Texas State, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, UT Arlington, Toledo and Washington State round out the 18-team field.
For the second straight tournament, SDSU head coach Ryan Donovan will employ the starting lineup of seniors PJ Samiere (Kailua, Hawaii), Blake Abercrombie (Rocklin, Calif.), sophomore Trevor Norby (Carlsbad, Calif.), as well as freshmen Zihao Jin (Beijing, China) and Steve Sugimoto (San Diego, Calif.). Also back in the mix is another rookie Puwit Anupansuebsai (Nakhon Phanom, Thailand), who will compete as an unattached golfer.
The Aztecs are coming off a solid second-place performance at the Warrior Princeville Makai Invitational earlier this week in Hawaii, where they recorded the second-lowest 54-hole total in school history with a 47-under 817 to finish nine strokes behind champion Louisville (-56). The Scarlet and Black topped the field with a 269 on the final day, which marked the program’s fifth-best team round ever.
Individually, SDSU had three players finish among the top 15 in Kauai, including Abercrombie, who landed in the sixth spot with a career-low 16-under 200, while Norby tied for eighth with a collegiate-best 12-under 204, highlighted by a 63 over the final 18 holes. In addition, Samiere tied for the 13th at 9-under 207, which included a 65 in the final day of competition.
Norby’s 63, which included an eagle-2 on his last hole of the day, was the lowest individual 18-hole total in relation to par by an SDSU player since Alex Kang shot a 9-under 62 at the opening round of the Alister MacKenzie Invitational.
Meanwhile, Sugimoto and Jin are coming off their first-ever varsity starts in Hawaii. Sugimoto tied for 41st with a 3-under 213, while Jin finished one stroke behind a tie for 46th with a 214. For the season, Samiere leads the Aztecs with a 69.83 scoring average, which ranks third in the Mountain West, while Abercrombie has averaged 71.08 strokes in 12 rounds this year.
The aforementioned trio also figured prominently on SDSU’s title-winning team at the Saint Mary’s Invitational a year ago, when Samiere finished one shot out of the lead in the runner-up position after carding a 67 in the final two rounds en route to a 2-under 211. Abercrombie, meanwhile, tied for 13th at 8-over 221, two shots ahead of Norby, who climbed a whopping 33 places into a tie for 33rd thanks to season-best 69 on the final day.
Next week’s event marks the 12th edition of the Saint Mary’s Invitational, which returns to Poppy Hills for the third straight season after a five-year run at Bayonet and Black Horse Golf Courses in Seaside, Calif. Samiere is the top returning individual from last season after medalist Eduardo Carrete of Saint Mary’s completed his eligibility. Also back in the mix are Arizona’s George Cunningham (3rd, -1), San Francisco’s Tim Widing (5th, +1) and Henry Chung (T-6th, +3) and UC Santa Barbara’s Nick Swanson (T-9th, +5).
Poppy Hills opened in 1986 and has since co-hosted the PGA Tour’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am from 1991-2009, as well as the Spalding Pebble Beach Invitational (1989, 1990, 1992, 1993) and the 1991 NCAA Men’s Golf Championships. Designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., Poppy Hills became the first course to be owned and operated by a golf association in the United States when the Northern California Golf Association built the club to serve as its headquarters and tournament home.
With a focus on water conservation, Poppy Hills underwent an extensive renovation in 2013 by improving irrigation and drainage. The Jones design firm reinvented the course architecturally, restoring each hole to its natural elevation along the forest floor, softening doglegs and contours, rebuilding all 18 greens with bentgrass, eliminating rough and introducing native waste areas that reduce irrigated turf by nearly 25 percent. The refurbished Poppy Hills opened in April 2014 and has joined the course rotation for the Champions Tour’s PURE Insurance Open.
Following the Saint Mary's Invitational, San Diego State will take a near three-month break from competition before returning to the fairways for the Arizona Intercollegiate, Jan. 29-30, 2018, in Tucson.