M. Golf Places Seventh at Sonoma State Invitational

The UCSD men’s golf team improved on its season-opening
finish, taking seventh at the Sonoma State Invitational that took place just
north of San Francisco
from Oct. 22 through Oct. 23.

While the wildfires raged through Southern
California
, canceling sports events across the region, the Tritons
escaped to safer territory and tried not to let the disaster at home affect
their focus.

“It would be a lie to say that the fires had a bad effect on
us,” head coach Mike Wydra said. “Both Nathan Phan’s and my family were
evacuated so we didn’t know if our homes were still there. But we’re not going
to use that as an excuse.”

Junior Nathan Phan was able to put the disaster to the back
of his mind and focus on his task at hand. He fired rounds of 72-69-75 for an
even-par 216 total and was UCSD’s top individual. His 15th-place finish was
supported by a 21st-place finish by sophomore Austin Alfonso, who shot a
five-over-par 221.

The Tritons opened up round one on Oct. 22, posting a team
total of 295 on the 6,711-yard Santa Rosa Golf and Country Club. Phan led the
way with his even-par 72. Even though the conditions were difficult, the low
scores were out there.

“This tournament was changed from the spring to fall because
the course doesn’t drain well,” Wydra said. “It got about a half inch of rain
before the tournament so the course was very soft. The greens were in good
shape and we played lift, clean and place both days. Anytime you put your hands
on the ball it becomes easier to shoot those low scores.”

After the grueling first 18 holes, UCSD and the other nine
squads headed back out for second-round action.

As a team, the Tritons combined for an identical 295,
totaling 590 for the day. Phan put himself in medalist contention with a three-under-par
69. The other Triton golfers played well, but couldn’t turn in the same
impressive performance as Phan.

“Nathan is in his third year and hasn’t played up to his
standards before this year,” Wydra said. “Ever since the final round 68 during
regionals last year, he has been playing really well and striking the ball
beautifully.”

Phan cooled down during the final round with a three-over 75
to finish even for the tournament. Juniors Ryan Bailey and Billy Olsen and
freshman Bryan Olshock rounded out the other UCSD competitors, finishing 42nd,
43rd, and 45th respectively.

Overall, Wydra was pleased with the team’s performance,
considering the circumstances at home.

“The previous event we averaged just over 300 and we got
that number down to 295 this week,” he said. “We didn’t putt terribly well and
had we, the scores would’ve reflected that. But they’re getting into the season
now.”

Next up for UCSD is the Mauna Lani Invitational from Oct. 29
through Oct. 30 in Hawaii. The invitational marks the end of the Tritons’ fall
season, as the team won’t see tournament action until February.

Four of the five members competing this week haven’t
competed in Hawaii
before. According to Wydra, the Bermuda grass makes the greens in Hawaii very difficult to
read but he believes that with such a talented and advanced group, they should
adapt quickly and perform well.

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