The men’s golf team couldn’t come back from a lackluster sixth-place, first-round performance in the Big West Championship and wound up finishing eighth overall out of 10 teams with a final score of 912. CSU Fullerton and University of the Pacific were tied after the final round and went on to play a one-hole playoff, in which Pacific came out ahead. With the win, Pacific earns an automatic berth into the NCAA Regionals. UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara and Long Beach State rounded out the top five, respectively.
The Highlanders’ first-round finish of sixth place was their best of the event. They would later falter with eighth-place finishes after rounds two and three. They were, however, only six strokes behind Hawai’i for sixth place and were a whole sixteen shots ahead of Cal Poly and CSU Northridge, who tied for ninth.
After the competition, Head Coach Eric Riehle stated that. “[He is} satisfied with the performance, but not overly excited with the finish. We were in position during the final round to finish one spot higher in the event, but did not close well on the last four holes. Disappointing in that regard, but we did outperform our seeding going into the tournament,” he said.
Individually, Highlanders Jason Semthiti (75-75-80), Ryan Smith (79-76-77) and Christian Rajcic (77-78-79) all finished close to each other, with scores of 14, 16 and 18 over par, respectively. BJ Doucett (78-84-78) rounded out the team, finishing with a score of 24 over par. Doucett and Semthiti played a couple holes exceptionally well, scoring the only two eagles for the team in the tournament.
Riverside’s leading man, however, was David Gazzolo (72-76-71) who finished tied for fifth overall by accumulating only three shots over par. He was extremely consistent throughout the competition, scoring as many birdies as he did bogeys or double bogeys, staying right around even all three days and ended strong by going one under par in the final round.
Coach Riehle seemed proud of David’s performance and the progress he’s made. “Over the last month of the season, David has been playing very well. His last three events he has finished first, T-5 and T-5 at the Big West Conference Championship. Earlier in the season David was struggling with his ball striking, so we decided to make that a priority in practice, and the results followed the work that he has been putting in,” said Riehle.
With this being the last competition of the season, the team must now begin to think about next year, and the head coach already has. Riehle said, “We return four great players, and have seven freshmen coming in. I couldn’t be more excited about the group that we will have next year.”