Largely led by three freshmen down the stretch, the Arizona State men’s golf team did what they had to do in Austin, TX on Wednesday to advance to the NCAA Championships for the fourth consecutive year.
While senior Jared du Toit notch a 3-under 68 in the final round, including three birdies in the final eight holes, the play of a freshmen trio on Wednesday — after a tough outing for two of them on Tuesday — was noteworthy.
As du Toit settled into his role as a senior captain and leader after an opening round of 74, he went 69-68 to finish tied for 10th at 2-under 211.
Head coach Matt Thurmond, who hadn’t taken a team to the NCAA Championships since his Washington team in 2014, said his leadership was key for the youngsters.
“Jared [De Toit] didn’t start off with his usual fire or tenacity, but he got it going over the final couple of days,” Thurmond said. “It kind of woke the rest of our guys up, especially Alex and the rest of the youngsters.”
Freshman Alejandro Del Rey Gonzalez was outstanding all three days and picked the best time to have his best tournament. He tied for fifth with a 3-under 210 (71-68-68), which included four birdies in the first 10 holes on Wednesday to set the tone. It marked the first time all year he shot par or better in every round of a tournament.
Chun, who has been solid since stepping onto campus in January, bogeyed seven of his final eight holes Tuesday. On Wednesday he birdied the first hole and the par-4, 495-yard final hole that essentially clinched the nationals trip. He finished tied for 28th at 5-over 218 (71-77-70).
Thurmond says he hasn’t coached a team with this much young talent going into the NCAA championships. And he can’t believe this is what’s coming of his first year coaching the Sun Devils.
“When I got here and started recruiting I knew we were going to have some young talent and I knew Jared was going to be a great leader, but this has been so much better then I could have imagined,” Thurmond said. “Lets see how far we can take this, but this has already been a pretty incredible ride”