With a barrage of thunderstorms hitting Southern California this week, there is no better time for the UCSB men’s golf team to take a road trip.
The Gauchos will head to Hawaii this week to participate in the John Burns Intercollegiate Tournament, which will be held at the Leilehua Golf Course. The tournament is hosted by the University of Hawaii and features a 21-team field that includes five of the top-25 teams in the country.
Only two of the regular UCSB starters will be playing this week, leaving the Gauchos with an inexperienced lineup. Greg Wells, Joe Ryon, Marty Melcher, Ryan Keefe and Federico Lopez-Douzoglou will start for the Gauchos in the 54-hole tournament.
“They’re good enough where they should be able to do well,” Head Coach Steve Lass said. “The first and second tournaments are usually a test of nerves, so they’ll have to battle their nerves this week.”
UCSB is led by Wells, a junior, will be paired up with UNLV’s Ryan Moore, the top amateur player in the country. Moore, the defending NCAA Champion, played with Arnold Palmer at the 2003 Masters and also won the U.S. Amateur Championship last year.
“Greg is our best player and being paired with Ryan Moore will be a great learning experience for him,” Lass said.
Besides Wells, the Gauchos will count on sophomore Ryon, who has turned in several strong performances already this year. Ryon’s average score of 73 shots per round is second on the team to Wells’ 71.5
“Joe has practiced really well and I expect him to play good golf this week,” Lass said.
Each member of the team will play 18 holes a day, with the best four individual scores counting toward UCSB’s total for the day. The deep field includes #4 New Mexico, #5 Auburn and #9 BYU, as well as Arizona, the defending champion. Last years individual champion, Spencer Levin of New Mexico, will also be competing.
The tournament will give the team some much-needed experience, as well as a short trip to sunny Hawaii.
“It’s nice to get away from the rain of Santa Barbara, but for me, it’s just another tourney,” Lass said. “For the players, however, it’s the trip they look forward to all year.”