Men's Golf Prepares for ASU Thunderbird Invite
April 4, 2013
SAN DIEGO - The San Diego State men's golf team returns to the course this weekend when it competes in the 41st annual ASU Thunderbird Invitational, April 5-7, in Tempe, Ariz. The three-day, 54-hole tournament gets underway Friday at the par-70, 7,002-yard Karsten Golf Course with a double-tee start on holes 1 and 10, beginning at 7:30 a.m. PDT.
The 18-team field features four schools ranked in the latest Golfstat top 50 index, including No. 1 California, No. 3 New Mexico, No. 30 UNLV and No. 43 and host Arizona State. The Aztecs will also lock horns with Arizona, Cal State Northridge, Denver, Harvard, Hawaii, Iowa State, New Mexico State, Oregon State, Pepperdine, the University of San Diego, Seattle, St. John's and UC Davis. A live scoring link will be available courtesy of Golfstat on goaztecs.com.
For the fourth time this season, SDSU head coach Ryan Donovan will employ the starting lineup of Tom Berry (New Haw, Surrey, England), Xander Schauffele (San Diego, Calif.), Riccardo Michelini (Carpi, Italy), Austin Kaiser (Atascadero, Calif.) and James Holley (Chatsworth, Calif.). The combination was last utilized at the Don Puckette N.I.T. in Tucson, Ariz., on March 16-17. In addition, freshman Kevin Ko (Coquitlam, B.C.) will compete this weekend as an individual.
The Aztecs are making their eighth consecutive appearance at the Thunderbird Invitational and 10th in the last 11 years. During that span, SDSU has recorded four top-five finishes, including a trio of runner-up performances in 2009, 2011 and 2012. In last season's tournament, the Aztecs maintained a four-stroke lead over California following the first 36 holes. However the Golden Bears (-17) shot a blistering 10-under 274 during the final round snare the team title, while SDSU (-9) wound up in a tie for second with New Mexico (-9). Berry is the Aztecs' lone veteran returning from last years' trip to Tempe, where he tied for eighth at 4-under 209, including a final-round 67 that featured five birdies.
Berry leads the Aztecs with a 72.19 stroke average this season, which is tied for fourth in the Mountain West, while Schauffele (14th - (72.70) and Michelini (20th - (73.27) also find themselves amongst the conference top 20 through 27 rounds this year.
The ASU Thunderbird Invitational was christened in 1973 and has been contested on an annual basis since then. Former SDSU All-American J.J. Spaun captured back-to-back individual titles in 2010 and 2011, joining Phil Mickelson (1991-92) as the only players to garner multiple medalist honors in the tournament. The Aztecs have also had two individual winners in Curt Worley (1978) and Howard Johnson (1985). Other previous Thunderbird Invitational champions of note include Scott Simpson (1975), Corey Pavin (1979), Bob Clampett (1980), Steve Jones (1981) David Sutherland (1987) and Paul Casey (2000).
Following this weekend's event, SDSU will head to the Santa Cruz area for its final tournament of the regular season when it participates in the Western Intercollegiate, April 13-14, at the picturesque Pasatiempo Golf Club.