The Idaho men’s golf team finished the third and final day of the Desert Shootout in Goodyear, Ariz., with a 296 to land an eighth-place finish at the tournament.
Last week the Vandals finished second at the Jackrabbit Invitational, but this week’s tournament had a much tougher field. Idaho finished in a tie with Tulsa, Air Force and Kansas.
While he was hoping for a higher finish, Idaho coach John Means said there are some positives to take away from the tournament.
“We beat Illinois, which is a top-20 team, and we tied Tulsa, which is also a top-20 team, so that’s a good thing,” Means said. “Eighth place isn’t good and it isn’t what we’re going for, but beating those schools is a good thing.”
BYU won the 54-hole tournament, and was led by Zachary Blair who blazed through the final day of competition, shooting a 64 to win the individual medal with a score of 15-under. Blair was seven strokes ahead of his nearest competitor, which was Wichita State’s Hunter Sparks, who finished at seven-under. Illinois’s Thomas Pieters rounded out the top three at three-under.
Denver, the host of the tournament, finished second and 10 strokes behind BYU. Baylor finished in third and Wichita State finished fourth. Idaho’s Gordon Webb, who finished second in last week’s tournament, which earned him the WAC Golfer of the Week award, had another solid performance, finishing in a tie for sixth place at two-under. Aaron Cockerill also finished high for Idaho with a one-over performance to finish in a tie for 16th.
The Vandals ended the first day of competition on Thursday in a tie for sixth, shooting their low round for the tournament. The Vandals ended the second day in ninth, but managed to climb one more spot on the third day to end in eighth.
Means said his young team has been progressing this season, but like with most young teams, it doesn’t come all at once.
“They’ve been inconsistent and they’re making young player mistakes,” Means said. “Gordon (Webb) has been playing well all spring and has been consistent and I kind of hope the guys pick up on that a little bit.”
The Vandals will be back in action on April 8 when they travel to Scottsdale, Ariz., for the Wyoming Classic. Idaho will then play one more tournament on April 19-21 before the WAC Championship, which starts on April 29 in Las Vegas.
“We just have to hang on when things aren’t going,” Means said. “These are young guys and they’ll make mistakes, but we saw some frustration out there. I just got to get them to understand the game and that you have to keep going through mistakes.”
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