#12 Men's Golf Continues Spring Slate At ASU Friday
April 4, 2012
The San Diego State men's golf team continues its spring schedule this week when it returns to the Grand Canyon State for the 40th annual Thunderbird Invitational in Tempe, Ariz., April 6-7. The Aztecs are competing in the 54-hole event for the seventh consecutive season and for the ninth time in the last 10 years at the par-71, 7,026-yard Karsten Golf Course.
SDSU is ranked 12th nationally and will once again face tough competition from the likes of four opponents rated among the top 20 nationally, including No. 2 UNLV, No. 3 California, No. 4 Washington and No. 16 New Mexico. The Aztecs, Rebels and Lobos will be joined by fellow Mountain West members Colorado State and Wyoming, while Arizona, Arizona State, Ball State, BYU, Cal State Northridge, Denver, Oklahoma, Pepperdine, UC Irvine and UTSA round out the 17-school field.
Aztec senior J.J. Spaun (San Dimas, Calif.) will be looking to capture his third consecutive Thunderbird individual title after winning in a playoff in 2010 and claiming a one-stroke victory in 2011. Spaun joined former Sun Devil Phil Mickelson (1991, 1992) as the only players to win multiple medalist honors at the 39-year-old event.
Live stats for both days will be available on golfstat.com, as well as SDSU's official website, goaztecs.com. Play gets underway at 7:45 a.m. PT on Friday (shotgun) and 7 a.m. on Saturday (tee times).
Aztec Line-Up For This Week
Ninth-year head coach Ryan Donovan will bring the same starting five, as well as one individual this week to Tempe. Seniors Colin Featherstone (Fallbrook, Calif.), Matt Hoffenberg (Simi Valley, Calif.), Alex Kang (Oak Park, Calif.) and J.J. Spaun and junior Tom Berry (New Haw, England) are slated make the trip, as well as junior Cameron Tennant (Woodland Hills, Calif.), who will be competing as an individual.
All five Aztec starters will be participating in their third Thunderbird Invite.
Flashback: SDSU & The Thunderbird Invitational
SDSU is making its seventh-straight appearance at the ASU Thunderbird Invite and ninth in the last 10 years. During that span, the team has finished in the top five three times, including a pair of runner-up performances last season and in 2009.
USC claimed the team title a year ago by 14 strokes with a 15-under 839, but is not in the tournament field this year.
In addition to Spaun's two victories, an Aztec has claimed medalist honors at this event two other times in 1978 by Curt Worley and in 1985 by Howard Johnson.
In The National Rankings
With its sixth-place performance at Stanford last weekend, the Aztecs dropped from ninth to 12th in the latest golfstat.com national rankings, which were released Wednesday. The team is also rated 13th by Golfweek/Sagarin and remains 15th in the Golf World/Nike Golf Division I College Coaches' Poll, which was posted back on March 22.
San Diego State's four tournament titles this year tie for fifth nationally, behind only No. 1 Texas, which claimed victory No. 6 this past weekend, and No. 2 UNLV, No. 9 Oregon and No. 10 Arkansas, which have all won five times.
Rewind: SDSU Settles For Sixth at U.S. Intercollegiate
The San Diego State men's golf team settled for sixth place at the U.S. Intercollegiate this past Sunday, posting a 54-hole total of 33-over 873 at the par-70, 6,742-yard Stanford Golf Course.
Junior Tom Berry was the Aztecs' top finisher for the first time this season, cutting one stroke off each of his rounds to tie for 19th place at 6-over 216, including a 71 in the final 18 holes.
Aztec senior Matt Hoffenberg also had his tournament low in the final 18 holes, matching Berry's 71 to jump from 36th into a tie for 25th place at 7-over 217.
SDSU's final three golfers went the other way on the individual leaderboard in the final round with Colin Featherstone slipping from 18th all the way to 40th at 11-over 221 and Alex Kang dropping from 36th to 43rd at 12-over 222. Senior J.J. Spaun, who entered the weekend having won in each of his last three starts, opened with an even-par 70, but then logged rounds of 76 and 77 to tie for 46th at 13-over 223.
The men's golf team has one more tournament to play, the 65th annual Western Intercollegiate in Santa Cruz next week, before taking 19 days off to prepare for the 2012 Mountain West Conference championships in Tucson, Ariz., May 4-6.
Head Coach Ryan Donovan
Ryan Donovan is in his ninth season at the helm of the SDSU golf program after serving as an assistant in 2003. Since taking, he has directed the Aztecs to 23 tournament titles and four NCAA national championship appearances.
In 2010-11, he was named a finalist for the Dave Williams Award, which is handed out annually to the national coach of the year in Division I men's golf. Donovan also became the first Aztec named Mountain West Coach of the Year and was tabbed the Eaton Golf Pride West Region Division I Men's Coach of the Year by the GCAA.
A native of Yorba Linda, Calif., Donovan was a four-year member of the Aztec golf squad, before graduating in 2001.