Though Santa Barbara came out with a strong stroke, it couldn’t keep the ball rolling, finishing sixth overall at the Big West men’s golf championships held Monday and Tuesday at the Tijeras Creek Golf Course in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.
Junior Michael Feuerstein led the Gauchos, finishing third overall individually and hitting four under par.
“He really played well,” UCSB Head Coach Steve Lass said. “He definitely surprised a lot of people at the tournament, but he is a good player so it wasn’t shocking.”
Cal Poly’s Travis Bertoni claimed his fist Big West individual title with a score of 207, 9 under par.
The Gauchos led the field in the first round, but finished 13 over par 72 as a team, just two strokes away from a third-place finish. Riverside, which led in rounds two and three, finished 12 under par to take sole possession of the title after being named co-champions with Long Beach State last year.
“We had an awesome first round, which was the low round of the entire tournament for anyone,” Lass said. “All in all, it was about a sixth-place finish. It was disappointing in that we were only two strokes out of third place.”
Santa Barbara had a five-stroke lead going into the second round, with four Gauchos sitting in the top 15 individually. However, UCSB couldn’t repeat its under-par performance, slipping into third place behind Riverside and Cal Poly in round two.
“Part of it is that it’s a little bit difficult to play when you have the lead. Mentally it’s a little tough,” Lass said. “You play your absolute best and it’s hard to do that twice in a row.”
Long Beach State and Irvine finished round two tied for fourth at eight over par, with Idaho in fifth place at 15 over par. The Gauchos let all three teams slip past them, falling into sixth place by the end of the third and final round.
Freshman Darren Schwartz and senior Nick Telliard threw off the typical Gaucho lineup, finishing 16th and 29th respectively. Santa Barbara’s usual one-two punch, junior Greg Wells and sophomore Joe Ryon, saw poor results at the tournament, finishing 43rd and 32nd respectively.
“Greg has played great all year, but it happens,” Telliard said. “You can’t play well all the time. It just happened that he and Joe had their worst tournaments at the same time.”
Despite his poor showing at the tournament, Wells was a Second Team All-Big West selection.