A bleak first-round performance on a tough course at the Callaway Golf Invitational in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., left the Gauchos in 14th place and out of contention for the tournament cup.
Playing the course too aggressively, Santa Barbara shot a 312 on day one to pave the way for a much-needed upturn over the next two rounds. The Gauchos eventually finished the tournament in 12th place out of 15 teams with a total score of 896.
“We started out really badly in the first round, which kind of put us out of it in terms of competing for the tournament,” senior Joe Ryon said. “There were a lot of mental errors, myself included. The golf course is really tight and we didn’t prepare ourselves well enough mentally.”
Throughout the two-day tournament, the Gauchos had quite a bit of trouble adjusting to the tricky course near San Diego, Calif.
“We let the course take advantage of us and let the course dictate what shots we were going to hit instead of just hitting shots we were comfortable with,” Ryon said. “This course was really tough and challenging; you had to really commit to hitting the shot you wanted to. We fired at pins that we shouldn’t have and were playing way too aggressively.”
Ryon himself shot an 82 in the first round, but came back to shoot 145, just one over par, in the next two rounds.
The comeback kid of the tournament was freshman Brian Hollenbeck who shot one under par in his final two rounds to finish in 21st place – a team best.
“He hit the ball really straight and kept the ball in play the last two rounds really well,” junior Marty Melcher said. “He hit a lot of greens and played a lot smarter than the rest of us did; he wasn’t taking big risks out there.”
Club selection also weighed heavily in the freshman’s success.
“He was a lot smarter than the rest of us; he decided to take his driver out of the bag,” Ryon said.
With a course especially narrow off the tee, Hollenbeck relied on his 3-wood to regain some rhythm after a disappointing first round.
“In the first round, I drove my ball pretty badly down that course; its pretty tight off the tee so you definitely need to be in the fairway if you want to score well,” Hollenbeck said. “I stopped hitting my driver as much as I did the first round and I pulled out my 3-wood and hit that most of the second round. And once I got some confidence with it, I just kept playing that off the tee.”
Sophomore Tony Verna placed 54th and junior Marty Melcher and junior Ryan Keefe tied for 57th for the tournament.
The Gauchos return to action on Monday in Pauma Valley, Calif.