The UCSB men’s golf team got back into the swing of things this week by competing in its first tournament of the season at the Pacific Invitational in Stockton on Monday and Tuesday.

After two days on the links, the Gauchos placed fourth out of 10 teams with junior Greg Wells shooting 206 for second place among individuals.

Wells shot under 70 in all three rounds for the first time in his Gaucho career, shooting 69 and 68 in the first two rounds on Monday and 69 in Tuesday’s final round.

“That was my best tournament ever,” Wells said.

His cumulative total of 206 put him just two shots off of Caly Poly student Travis Bertoni’s individual winning score.

“I practiced at home all summer on short game and fundamentals,” Wells said. “I felt like I was as ready as I’ve ever been for a tournament.”

Freshman Ryan Keefe kicked off his Gaucho career shooting 229 for a three-way tie for 27th place with Pacific freshman Chris Rosenau and Gaucho junior Michael Feuerstein. Santa Barbara senior Nick Telliard shot 230, good for a 31st-place finish, and sophomore Sean Meier shot 243 for 64th place.

Santa Barbara shot 891 as a team, 28 shots over tournament-winner Riverside. Cal Poly took second place with a score of 873, and Pacific finished third, shooting 877.

“I think the guys on the team can play a lot better; they know they can,” Wells said. “We have a lot of room for improvement.”

UCSB will have a lot of time to improve its game. The Pacific Invitational is just the start of the 2004-05 season for the Gauchos – a season that doesn’t end until late April. The Gauchos will play in a variety of venues this year, stretching from Scottsdale, Ariz., to Hawaii and many California courses in between.

Santa Barbara finished fourth in the Big West Tournament last year, a competition it had been working toward all year.

“For the past couple of years we had focused on the Big West and didn’t do so well,” Wells said. “We’re going to take it one tournament at a time and we’ll see what happens when we get to the end of the season.”

The cohesion of the Gaucho team will strengthen it all year long, marking a definite improvement over years past.

“This year’s team hangs out a lot together off the course, and I think that helps you play as a team,” Wells said. “We have a lot of guys that are working well, and that’s driving everybody.”

The next time the Gauchos will go a-driving is Oct. 18-19 in Reno, Nev., for the Wolf Pack Classic.