Men’s golf makes a name for itself

Photo courtesy of Stan Liu

Photo courtesy of Stan Liu

by Rafael Avitabile

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Without the hype of national TV coverage or crazed student fans, the San Diego State men’s golf team is quietly establishing itself as a premier program on the Mesa. Winners of the 2011 and 2012 Mountain West Championships, the Aztecs will look to start another streak and bring home a third Mountain West Title in four years.

After a light fall schedule, men’s golf carries a golfweek.com and golfstat.com pre-spring ranking of No. 47 and No. 52 respectively behind University of Nevada, Las Vegas and University of New Mexico. Their runner-up finish to New Mexico in last year’s conference championship has provided plenty of motivation for this experienced team to retake its seat atop the Mountain West.

Junior Xander Schauffele and sophomore Riccardo Michelini, two standout players from last season, will lead the team as they try to improve on last year’s impressive season that featured five top-5 finishes and a win at the Lamkin Grips San Diego Classic. So far, the Aztecs have finshed in the top-10 in all three of their tournaments this season.

After earning All-Conference honors last year, Schauffele is off to a strong start, finishing as the low man of the team twice, including a fourth place finish at the William H. Tucker Invitational. Schauffele currently hold a pre-spring ranking of No. 102 on golfstat.com.

[quote]“As team captain, for us to play well I need to lead the team,” Schauffele said. “I’ve got to put my foot forward and set an example, set the bar high. Those are the things I can do to get the ball rolling and keep it rolling.”[/quote]

Michelini has started slow after missing the first tournament of the fall while playing a pro event in Italy, but the 2013 Mountain West Freshman of the Year has his expectations set high for himself and his team.

“My number one goal would be to win Nationals with the team, and obviously winning as many tournaments as I can individually,” Michelini said. “That would be the best thing for us, not just for me. Even for Coach. We all put in so much effort in this program, you just want to see everyone succeed.”

From basketball to football and even in golf, Aztec tradition runs deep in the hearts of student athletes.

The embodiment of the university’s moniker is essential for the men’s golf team as it begins the spring chasing another Mountain West title, and no one appreciates that Aztec mentality more than head coach and SDSU alumnus Ryan Donovan.

[quote]“There’s a toughness we try to instill here at San Diego State and we take pride in being Aztecs,” Donovan said. “We get some players that like to roll up their sleeves a little bit down here and have a little bit of swagger. I let the guys go and play their own game and I think they buy into that.”[/quote]

The spring season kicks off on Feb. 17 at The Prestige at PGA West in La Quinta. Last year, the Aztecs finished in 12th place out of 15 teams at a combined 39 strokes over-par through 54 holes.

Photo courtesy of Stan Liu/SDSU Athletics

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