UCR’s men’s golf team took part in the Stockton Pacific Invitational which began on Thursday, Oct. 27, which is the final tournament of the fall season for the club. The Highlanders’ travel team consisted of juniors Matt Lutz and Luke Park and sophomores Andrew Spilman, Michael Wong and Pachara Sakulyong, who filled in for ill senior Sam Gillis.
Entering the tournament, Head Coach Rick Todd acknowledged, “We’re at a little bit of a disadvantage with one of my best players out.” But his goals for the tournament remained unchanged regardless of who competed. “I just want these guys to play well, eliminate all the mental mistakes and have fun,” explained Todd, which is consistently the core gameplan for him and his team.
On day one of the tournament, the Highlanders were led by Wong with a score of one-under-par at 70, which included five birdies. For Wong, this was his fifth career round under par. Lutz finished five-over, Spilman and Sakulyong finished six-over and Park finished eight-over to round out the day.
Day two was owned by Lutz, who shot a seven-under-par 64 and hit no bogeys for the entire round, bringing his total round score to two-under. For Lutz, it was his seventh career round in the 60s and his career-lowest round, which was previously 66. He was also only a single shot away from entering a three-way tie in the UCR record books for a program record-low 63, which is shared by Brendan Steele (2003-04) and Scott Clayton (2009-10). The rest of the Highlanders finished with Wong at three-over, Spilman at six-over, Sakulyong at 14-over and Park at 17-over.
Saturday was the final day of the tournament and saw Spilman and Wong both shoot a one-over-par 73 and Sakulyong shot his best round of the tournament at two-over 74. The final round scores for the Highlanders saw Lutz at one-over, Wong at four-over, Spilman at seven-over, Sakulyong at 16-over and Park at 27-over, which placed the team 12th out of 13.
While the final placing may have been undesirable, Todd wanted to use this tournament as an opportunity for other players to develop and possibly become travelers, saying, “This is a great opportunity for a couple of these guys. Our core guys are pretty much set but we have to find a fifth man really.” Going forward, Todd wants to keep the fifth spot open to encourage an aura of competition in order for him to build the best five-man travel squad he can. His mindset going forward is, “What have you done for me lately?” and he wants every player to answer that question on the course to prove that they want to travel.
The Highlanders are out of action until the Folino Invitational hosted by Cal State Fullerton from Monday, Jan. 30 to Tuesday, Jan. 31. Until then, the Highlanders will be winding down practice intensity to focus on school, because no matter how well you swing a golf club, you still have to take your finals.