The UCSB men’s golf team got off to a slow start in the John Burns Intercollegiate but came on strong in the final two rounds to secure an 11th-place finish.
Playing at the Leilehua Golf Course in Hawaii Feb. 23-25, the Gauchos finished with a team score of 1-over-par-864. The University of New Mexico held off the University of Nevada Las Vegas and defending champion Arizona for the team title, finishing 31 under par as a team. Defending U.S. Amateur champion Ryan Moore of UNLV ran away with the individual title, shooting 8-under-par-64 in the final round.
The Gauchos were led by junior Greg Wells, who finished in a tie for 28th place. In Thursday’s second round, Wells put up one of the tournament’s lower scores with a 6-under-par-66. He finished the week at 3 under par, with a total of 213 shots over three rounds.
“His 66 was awesome. We really needed that,” Head Coach Steve Lass said. “He didn’t play his best golf this week, but he still had a good tournament.”
The Gauchos improved every day, shooting a combined 5-under-par-283 in the final round of the tournament. Sophomore Joe Ryon and freshmen Ryan Keefe and Marty Melcher all shot under par on Friday. Melcher led the final round charge with a 3-under-par-69, the lowest round of his college career.
“We got off to a slow start but we improved each round, which is always important,” Lass said. “The team’s play on the final day was the difference between about 15th place and 11th place.”
Each of the Gaucho starters shot a round under par, but UCSB was not able to consistently put up low scores. The 66 by Wells was sandwiched by two rounds over par, preventing him from competing for the individual title.
“Being consistent in golf is not an easy thing to do,” Lass said. “Hopefully, they [will] get to the point where three good rounds is an everyday thing for them.”
Spencer Levin of team champion New Mexico shared the lead with Moore and Will Dodson of Southern Methodist University after two rounds, but Moore captured the individual title by shooting the low round of the tournament on Friday.
“Ryan Moore showed that he is the best amateur in the country,” Lass said.
The Gauchos will hit the links again March 7-8, when they participate in the Braveheart Intercollegiate in Beaumont, Calif.