For a golfer, it doesn’t get much better than a wide-open course on a perfect day – the results from Santa Barbara’s own OGIO-Pacific Coast Intercollegiate Tournament on Monday and Tuesday sure reflected that.
Cal Poly’s Chris Kirk shot 17-under-par for three rounds after opening up the tournament with a remarkable 8-under-par 64 on Monday morning. He followed that up with rounds of 67 and 68 to stay one stroke below the 200 barrier and help lead the Mustangs to victory in the team competition.
“It was very good golf weather and it’s a perfect course for college golfers. It’s fairly wide open, not very tight,” UCSB Head Coach Steve Lass said. “College golfers love this [because] they can swing pretty much as hard as they can on most of their shots. That’s really what they like; the strength of their game is not really finesse yet at their age.”
As a squad, Cal Poly edged Denver after trailing on day one with a 37-under-par 827 to Denver’s 32-under-par 832. The Mustangs shot eight rounds under 70 on the par 72 course to separate themselves from the pack and carry on to victory.
Santa Barbara took seventh place in its own tournament with a 13-under-par 851. Team leaders senior Joe Ryon and freshman Matt Hollenbeck each played three solid rounds. Ryon finished in a tie for 13th place with a 7-under-par 209, while Hollenbeck placed 33rd in individual competition with a 3-under-par 213.
“Brian Hollenbeck and Joe Ryon, my number one and two guys, played the same consistent golf they’ve played all year, which is what we’ve come to expect from them,” Lass said.
Sophomore Tony Verna played a strong tournament, finding himself tied for 17th place after three rounds with a 6-under-par 210.
“It was nice to see one of the other guys step up and play well for three rounds,” Lass said.
The most pleasant surprise of the tournament for the Gauchos was the play of freshman Matt Grush, appearing in only his second individual collegiate tournament.
At the close of the first day he was sitting in a three-way tie for third place and, after a solid second day, he matched Santa Barbara’s finish by taking seventh in the individual competition.
“[Grush] was playing as an individual, but still he played just outstanding golf,” Lass said. “He will go to our next tournament and most likely he will go now to the Big West Championship and play on our starting team in three weeks down in Irvine. It was nice to see someone else really have a great tournament.”
The Gauchos return to action next Monday down in Scottsdale, Ariz., and hope to turn it up a notch with the emergence Grush as a competitive force on the squad.
“We just haven’t quite got it all together in the spring like we did in the fall and I’m hoping that with Matt Grush, a new guy in the lineup next week, we can put it all together at the same time,” Lass said. “We haven’t played poorly. We’ve been in the top half of the field in each tournament. [But] we haven’t played – I wouldn’t say – exceptionally well.”