Golfers Struggle in Texas Snow

    GOLF — Instead of fighting for a position on the board, the UCSD men’s golf team found themselves fighting each other — with snowballs — on Feb. 23. A thick layer of snow blanketed the Grey Rock Golf Club in Austin, Tex., forcing officials to cancel the final round of the St. Edwards Invitational.

    Battling the elements, UCSD finished in 12th place in a field of 14, with a 65-over-par score. Junior Keith Okasaki finished in a tie for 28th place.

    This is the third event in the Triton season shortened due to weather conditions. Rain plagued both the InterWest Wildcat Classic and the Sonoma State Invitational last October — but snow was a new challenge for head coach Mike Wydra the team.

    “I can’t ever remembered being snowed out,” Wydra said, who is in his 30th season with the Tritons. “I’m not a real big fan of snow.”

    The Tritons were caught unprepared for the bitter cold, and it showed in their scores. With temperatures dropping into the mid-30s and only wind gear available, players struggled to find their rhythm while keeping warm.

    “We were befuddled by the conditions,” Wydra said. “[The cold] was unbearable during the first round, and uncomfortable during the second. We’re not used to playing in that kind of cold. I was still shivering even with all the layers that I could get on.”

    Okasaki said it was difficult to practice in warm weather, only to face blizzard-like conditions during the actual event.

    “It was 72 degrees during the practice round,” he said. “It dropped to the mid-40s on Monday, then all the way to the 30s on Tuesday. It’s frustrating when you travel to these events only to have them cut short by weather.”

    After taking second place at the same event last season, Okasaki said he had hoped to perform better. Despite going two-under for the final seven holes, he fought the rhythm of his swing during both Monday rounds. In what has turned into a season-long problem, Okasaki blamed poor ball striking and a few bad holes for his disappointing performance.

    “I’m just not playing as well as I’m used to,” he said.

    It wasn’t just Okasaki that struggled — senior Raj Samra, the team’s No. 2 golfer, finished five strokes behind Okasaki in a tie for 50th place.

    Junior Richard Morris, sophomore Mike Neustadt and freshman Anubhav Rastogi, all participating in the event for the first time, struggled in their maiden outing.

    “A lot of our guys haven’t seen this type of course before,” Okasaki said. “We don’t have anything like it in San Diego. The other teams in the field usually play this type of course so they were expected to shoot better scores.”

    UCSD will head to the two-day Cal State San Bernardino Invitational on March 1.

    With the weather forecast predicting heavy rains over the weekend, Wydra is just hoping to play a full 54-hole event.

    “We’re getting pretty used to the rain gear and umbrellas,” he said. “There’s a chance we’ll lose out on our practice round on Sunday, but if we get to play 54 holes, that would be a real treat.”

    Readers can contact Matt Croskey at [email protected].

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