UCSB golf is looking to follow up a brilliant second-place finish at the Sycuan Collegiate Invitational this weekend, as they head to Hawaii for the John A. Burns Intercollegiate Tournament. The 16-team tournament will take place in Leilehua, Hawaii. On the heels of a strong Fall season, Head Coach Steve Lass hopes to continue the Gauchos’ success on the golf course.
“We had a pretty good Fall,” Lass said. “We had a great tournament at San Diego State, getting a second-place finish out of 21. I’m just looking forward to the season starting up again.”
Lass will call upon his reliable junior standout Brian Hollenbeck, as well as some of the team’s new faces. Sophomore Tyler Sterk is a walk-on this year and this will be his first college tournament. Scottish sophomore Andrew Gunson was recruited to the team, but has not played since a shoulder injury sidelined him two years ago.
“It feels damn good to be back,” Gunson said. “It was pretty frustrating the past couple of years, and it took a while to get my head back into it and hit the ball fully again. But I think we’re going do very well in this tournament.”
For Sterk, his work ethic and level head will help to push the team to success, as long as he keeps away from the pressure of his first tournament.
“I’m really just trying to stay calm about it and not make it a big deal,” Sterk said. “For almost all the players playing it’s not going to be their first tournament. [Walk-on players] might not have the same talent that the guys who came here on scholarship have, but we push everyone else a little bit more. If everyone plays to their capabilities, we could do really well.”
One of those great talents is Hollenbeck, who will anchor the team this weekend. Lass has high hopes for him in the upcoming season.
“Brian Hollenbeck is having an outstanding year, for his third year in a row,” Lass said. “I expect him sometime in the near future to really break through and become an elite college player. Right now he’s very, very good, but I know he’s got what it takes to be one of the best in the country.”
Hollenbeck sees the tournament as a precursor to the rest of the season.
“Hopefully we’ll do well,” Hollenbeck said. “It’ll give us an idea of whether or not our work during the winter has paid off or not, and give us a heads-up of what to look out for in the rest of the season.”
Sophomore Andrew Gunson perhaps summed up the team’s expectations best:
“I think we’re going do very well. We have a solid core of guys and we could take this one deep and maybe even win.”