Men’s Golf Finishes in Middle of Pack

    MEN’S GOLF — The Tritons opened up their 2008-09 campaign against tough opponents on the road at two prestigious Division-II tournaments, finishing seventh at the Western Washington Invitational and tying for 13th at the NCAA Division-II Preview Tournament. UCSD finished 27 strokes behind winning team University of Central Oklahoma.

    “We always go to the Western Washington Invitational so attending the NCAA Preview was getting a two-for-one,” said Mike Wydra, who is in his 30th season as the Tritons’ head coach. “Additionally, a team’s NCAA rank is not only what you shoot but your strength of schedule. It also gave us an opportunity to see the course where the National Championship will be held.”

    Returning three seniors and two juniors, the Tritons are looking to improve upon last year’s performance. The addition of junior transfer student Raj Samra, who according Wydra was a top recruit out of community college, has really altered the team’s chemistry in a good way. Samra has shown the team a strong commitment to the game, something which has been lacking, according to senior Ryan Bailey.

    “We’re really rallying behind [Samra],” he said. “Usually there is a learning curve for freshman but [Samra] already has collegiate experience and that has helped.”

    Samra and the team got their first taste of competition at the Western Washington Invitational Sept. 26-27. Its seventh-place finish improved on the team’s 10th-place finish from last season.

    The Tritons opened with a 10-over 298 on day one, 20 shots behind No. 12 Sonoma State, which turned in a team total of 10-under 278. Sophomore Keith Okasaki led the way for UCSD, shooting an even-par 72. Bailey carded a two-over 74.

    On day two, the Triton golfers fared better, scoring a four-under 284 to finish the tournament six-over par as a team. Individually, Samra turned in the second lowest round of the day, a four-under 68. Samra finished in a tie for 17th with teammate senior Billy Olsen. Okasaki was the low-man for the Tritons, carding an even-par 72 in the final round and finished even par for the tournament.

    The Triton golfers hung around in Washington for a few more days to take part in the NCAA Division-II Preview Tournament for the first time. Held at Loomis Trail Country Club, UCSD faced a much stiffer test than what it saw in the Western Washington Invitational.
    Set up to play just under 7,000 yards and par 71, Loomis Trail was a different beast than what players had faced only two days earlier, Wydra said.

    “Imagine running through the Colosseum in ancient Rome,” he said. “You get through once, the odds of getting back through aren’t very good. The course had water on 18 holes. That’s all of them.”

    Fresh faces Samra and Okasaki led UCSD, firing an even-par 71 and three-over 74 respectively. Their scores put the Tritons in a tie for 13th, the same place in which they’d finish the tournament.

    The Tritons faced one of the most difficult challenges of tournament golf as they played a grueling 36 holes in one day. While the physical toll may not be as tough as a basketball team who plays three games in a day, the mental toll is what wears players out.

    “It’s part of collegiate golf,” Wydra said. “Our mental toughness is one of our biggest assets as a team. The addition of [Samra] has also improved our mental game with his no-fear clarity infecting the whole team.

    UCSD proved that it was up for the task improving with each round. Building on their day-one 299 total, the Tritons carded a 295 and 292 in the second and final rounds respectively to finish at 34 over par as a team.

    Samra improved on his 11th-place finish at Western Washington with a ninth-place finish at the NCAA Preview Tournament. He fired rounds of 71-73-70 to finish one over par for the tournament, nine strokes behind the winner. Samara said the team has made his transition easy.

    “It’s just golf,” he said. “The team and guys have made the transition between teammates easy.”

    Despite the poor appearance of a 13th-place finish, the Tritons were pitted against the best of Division-II men’s golf and were able to finish in the middle of the pack this early in the season.

    “I think this weekend instilled confidence,” Bailey said. “We’re not satisfied, but we were playing against the best and didn’t get blown out. People know who we are and even fear us a bit.”

    The men will trek home now to begin classes, revamp swings and strengthen their mental game before entering the Sonoma State Invitational on Oct. 20-21. Sonoma State University finished the Division-II Preview tied for second place.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $2320
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal

    Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $2320
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal