Daily 49er

Men’s golf sits in third place at Waves Challenge

The 49ers play through high winds and trail host, Pepperdine by 22 strokes with one round to play.

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Wind gusts of up to 30 mph swirled through Saticoy Country Club in Somis, California where the Long Beach State men’s golf team opened the spring season Monday. The strong winds inflated scores during rounds one and two of the Waves Challenge in which the 49ers find themselves third out of 15 teams. Round two was suspended due to darkness and players will pick up where they left off on Tuesday and then immediately start the final round.

“I’ve seen windier days and courses with tougher hole locations, but it was a combination of both extremes today,” first year coach Michael Wilson said. “I was still impressed with the guys because they battled hard even though it would have been easy to just pack it in.”

The wind only added to the challenges of the course that measures nearly 7,000 yards and produced an average score of 81.61 from a field of 77 players.

Junior Andres Gonzalez and sophomore Hunter Reed were sharp in their return from a three-month hiatus from competitive play. Both shot 3-over par 75 in round one to tie for fourth.

“I was very motivated by the long break and it was exciting to be back out there because I have a feeling this year is already better than last,” Gonzalez said. “I knew the conditions were going to be tough out there because I did some research before the tournament. I was playing pretty well and feel like I’m still right there.”

Pepperdine junior Sahith Theegala carded the low score of 2-under par 70 in the first round on his home course. Behind their top player, the Waves are in first place by a comfortable 22 strokes heading into the final round Tuesday.

“Tomorrow I want to play smart because first place is 12 strokes ahead of me,” Gonzalez said. “But if I see that the leader is struggling then I’ll be going for a top-5 finish.”

Gonzalez had to adopt a slightly different technique when hitting a few approach shots into the hard-blowing wind. Instead of going for a usual high arching shot that lands softly on the green, he took more club and jabbed at the ball with a half-swing to keep it low so it rolls up to the green on the ground.

“I was hitting 100-yard shots with my 8-iron, which I normally hit about 160 yards,” Gonzalez said. “I was able to get a couple of those inside five feet [from the hole] and they were the most beautiful shots I had today.”

Round two started Monday afternoon but like the wind, the daylight did not cooperate. Players were forced to finish out holes in the dark before play was temporarily halted.

Before the stoppage, senior Nick Cantlay shot a first round 5-over par 77 and then started the second by making par on nine of his first 10 holes. He is currently tied for 19th at 10-over par.

“You come in knowing that [Saticoy CC] is famous for being tough and you really just have to let bogeys roll off your shoulders,” Cantlay said. “The goal is really to just hit one shot at a time. I’m not thinking about anything but staying in rhythm one shot to the next.”

Second and third round action will begin at 8 a.m. and can be followed on GolfStat.com.

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