SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — ASU men’s golf coach Matt Thurmond huddled his team up on the eighteenth after finishing their final round of practice, reminding them that they’re ready for what’s to come. Just one year ago ASU Men’s Golf marched into Grayhawk Golf Club looking to capture the NCAA Championship. That team, which included the then-freshman Preston Summerhays, ultimately fell to Texas and the Coody twins.
However, this year’s team is back with confidence and experience.
“We’re not trying to get lucky,” Thurmond said. “We’re not trying to be the team of destiny or have the cards align or whatever. We’re just trying to be us and be as good as we prepared to be.”
In the last month leading up to the championships, Thurmond’s team has been on a tear, sandwiching their runners-up finish at the Pac-12 Tournament with wins at the Thunderbird Collegiate and Las Vegas Regionals — and doing so with a record-breaking 59-under.
Sophomore Preston Summerhays has led the Devils this season and now leads them into the NCAA Championships, carrying the experience from last season.
“It motivates us a lot,” Summerhays said, speaking of last years results. “It also gives us a lot of confidence knowing that we got to that spot and were that close to winning, we just needed a little extra.”
Ryggs Johnston, who was on last years roster but did not make the trip to Grayhawk, said that the conditions this year are different, but has confidence that he and his team are ready.
“The guys have been playing good,” he said. “Preston’s gone on a really nice run, the rest of the guys played really well at regionals. I didn’t have the best week, and we still shot 59-under so that just says how well the rest of them are playing.”
Now competing with his team, Johnston said that not playing last year “hurt” and he felt more motivated this season to make the trip and help his team win, noting that be has a good history at Grayhawk.
Last years team also featured big performances by underclassmen, now ASU is looking for freshman Michael Mjaaseth and Luke Potter to do the same.
With the championships immediately following regionals, Thurmond knows how its going to affect his first-year players.
“It’s tough, you know, it’s a lot of pressure for anybody,” Thurmond said. “I pulled both Josele and Preston aside and said, ‘Hey, you remember a year ago how nervous you were tonight and tomorrow morning, going into that first round as a freshman, and that seemed like a long time ago, but just know that Michael and Luke and probably feeling everything you felt. If there’s any little advance that you can pass to them quietly, you know, in the car or in the hotel room, feel free to do anything you can to relax those guys.’”
Having two players who have gone through the stress and emotional rollercoaster will certainly be an advantage for ASU.
Summerhays said that the course is in good shape after the teams final round of practice. And although the greens are firm and the rough isn’t quite as thick as last years, he believes the teams strengths of driving and iron play will benefit them given how hard it is to get up and down at Grayhawk.
No. 4 Arizona State is paired with Texas Tech and rival Stanford and will tee off at 11:52 a.m. from hole one on Friday, May 26.