| 03.17.2018

Working to keep his spot


Idaho freshman golfer Dan Sutton had breakout performance in Arizona

The best performance from the Idaho men’s golf team in its last competition wasn’t 2014 WAC Freshman of the Year Jared du Toit or first-team All-WAC senior Aaron Cockerill.

Instead, the Vandals got a boost from freshman Dan Sutton.

After shooting an even-par 72 the first round of the 2015 Desert Shootout, the Birmingham, England, native found his groove by shooting a bogey-free, 3-under-par 69 the second round and a bogey-free, 7-under-par 65 the third round for a 10-under-par 206.

“I shot a bogey-free 69 and just gave me a world of confidence,” Sutton said. “I started off well in the third round and just let it go really. It all came together.”

The score earned Sutton a tie for second place with three other players at the Desert Shootout March 19-21 in Goodyear, Arizona, and helped his team solidify a fourth-place finish out of 15 teams at the event.

Sutton earned his first Big Sky Conference Men’s Golfer of the Week honor for his performance in Arizona.

Sutton didn’t even play in Idaho’s prior event to the Desert Shootout — the Cleveland Golf Palmetto Invitational — which took place March 9-10 in Aiken, South Carolina. Instead, his roommate, freshman Ian Kim, took his spot and traveled with the team.

“I didn’t take him when we went and played in South Carolina and I know he wasn’t happy about that,” Idaho coach John Means said. “I took his roommate, which makes it even harder.”

Sutton said Means told him staying in Moscow while the team traveled to South Carolina might make Sutton more determined to not be left behind again. Sutton said not traveling with the team probably did make him more determined to make the next trip.

Du Toit had similar thoughts.

“I think him not playing in South Carolina was probably pretty good for him because he was motivated and put a little chip on his shoulder,” du Toit said. “And then he came out in the next tournament, he got back in and took second individually, so I think he’s doing the right things, and hopefully he can keep that fire under his butt.”

Sutton said he almost didn’t make the starting five for the Desert Shootout. He said he and Kim competed for the fifth spot in practice with a 27-hole playoff. Kim still traveled to Arizona with the starters though, and competed as an individual.

Means said Sutton will play when Idaho competes at the Wyoming Cowboy Classic Monday and Tuesday in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Even though Sutton shot the best score on the team at the Desert Shootout, Means is still pushing Sutton to improve. He said the March 28 practice in Lewiston was “Beat Dan Day” in an effort to put more pressure on the younger players. On that day, he wanted to see how Sutton would respond to the pressure.

Means said three players beat Sutton so each of them received a prize. In addition, the team’s March 27 practice was “Beat Ian Day,” Means said.

“It’s quite competitive and you got to play well,” Sutton said of the competition among his teammates at practice. “It makes you focus a lot more, work on your game rather than if you know you’re guaranteed a spot, so it helps. It helps push you along.”

Du Toit said he thinks Sutton’s breakout performance in Arizona gives Sutton confidence moving forward.

“I think his attitude changed a little bit,” du Toit said. “I think after this big one. I think he believes in himself now that he can compete with the best and I’m excited to see what he does his last couple events, because he’s got all the skill. He’s got all the shots.”

Garrett Cabeza can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu

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