Eight years ago, the UCSB men’s golf team struggled through the first half of the season, but resiliently bounced back in the second half of the season and came one vote away from a bid to the NCAA Regionals. This year, a dire start has left the Gauchos hoping for a similar turnaround.
“This is the poorest start we have had to a season since the ’94-’95 season,” UCSB Head Coach Steve Lass said. “I don’t know if we have the same type of fighters we had that year. We will find out.”
Combating for the Gauchos this year is a team that has yet to shoot below 900 or crack the top ten of a tournament.
“We can’t go anywhere but up right now,” junior Brian Six said. “We’ve been putting a lot of pressure on ourselves.”
Last week at the Alister Mackenzie Invitational in Fairfax, CA, Santa Barbara finished in a tie for last place with Stanford, shooting 49 over par. Freshman walk-on Jeff DiTuillo led the Gauchos with a 62nd place finish, totaling a score of 225, followed by Jeff and Scott Linklater who tied for 69th place (227).
“The older guys have been pushing me and helping me stay focused,” DiTuillo said.
“[DiTuillo] has given us two solid performances so far this year, and I only expect him to get better,” Lass said.
At the Fresno Lexus Classic, senior clubber Jeff Linklater was the bright spot for the Gauchos, shooting 3 over par to earn a 17th place finish. The Gauchos placed 14th out of 17 teams, but put up a solid 292 in the final round, indicating potential to salvage an otherwise disappointing year thus far.
“We haven’t done very well, but we’re gonna step it up. We need to step it up,” Jeff Linklater said. “We have to take it one tournament at a time.”
UCSB resumes play Oct. 31 when they travel to Beaumont, Calif. for the 49er Intercollegiate and the team will hope to shed its tribulations.
“[Next week] we’ll be trying to pick up some wins against some Big West teams and try and win the tournament,” senior Scott Linklater said.
As far as the Big West is concerned, taking league is a distant but reasonable goal for the Gauchos, who are certain that their best golf is still to come. Winning the Big West title would guarantee a spot in the regionals, but much of the season has yet to be played.
Only time will dictate if this year’s Gauchos can conjure up the same spirits that possessed a similar struggling UCSB team eight years ago.