Men’s golf secures 4th place after historic final round in Maui Jim Intercollegiate


Derrick Tuskan/SDSU Athletics

Senior Youssef Guezzale watches the ball after driving it from the fairway. (Courtesy of Derrick Tuskan/SDSU Athletics)

by Nick Coppo, Staff Writer

The Aztecs kicked off their 2021 season at the Mirabel Golf Club in Scottsdale, AZ at the Maui Jim Intercollegiate Tournament. It was a competitive field that involved six Top 30 teams, according to the Golfweek rankings. 

These teams include Clemson (11), Georgia Tech (12), Washington (21), San Diego State (23), New Mexico (29) and Auburn (30).

It was a very impressive start to the season for the Aztecs with a final-round score on Sunday of 16-under 264 — the lowest round in program history. This performance vaulted the Aztecs from sixth place to fourth place. That score of 264 was tied with Auburn for the best round of the day and tied for the second-best round of the entire tournament. The team was able to take advantage of the Par-5 holes all weekend, shooting -19 on those holes in particular — third-best only behind Georgia Tech and Clemson — the first and second place teams at the tournament overall.

The most notable performance and story comes from senior Youssef Guezzale who finished the weekend in a tie for 12th place in a field of 90 golfers at -10 after a sensational round on Sunday, including seven birdies and an eagle on the second hole. His 6-under 64 on Sunday was tied for the second-best round of the day and the seventh-best round in SDSU program history. 

“Hear that, seventh-best round in history guys!” Guezzale said as he let his teammates know of the history he just made.

“I came out guns blazing,” Guezzale said when asked about his mindset going into the final day. “I knew I had to go low and that’s exactly what I did.” 

Of the seven birdies Guezzale had on the day, six of them came on Par 4s, meaning strong drives into an advantageous part of the fairway were key to a low score.

“In these desert courses there is not much room to hit offline, but I was able to stay out of the desert. Keep it in the fairway and you can go low.” Guezzale said.

Head Coach Ryan Donovan had each golfer ready to compete in Scottsdale and assessed the first weekend of play. 

“I’m pleased with the first weekend, obviously we have a lot of returning talent so it’s good to back that up,” Donovan said. “The bar is set high. We are playing against some good competition, we need to clean up a few things and we can’t make those little mistakes.”

Rounds of 274 and 272 on Friday and Saturday had the Aztecs sitting in sixth place going into the final day.

“I was disappointed with a few mistakes,” Donovan said reflecting on the first two rounds of play. “Let’s go out and put up the best round we could have.”

The Aztecs clearly took coach Donovan’s words to heart as four out of the five players shot their lowest score of the tournament on Sunday. 

Another promising performance from the weekend came from freshman Shea Lague shooting a six-under 204 in his first-ever collegiate tournament. Lague saved his best golf for last as four consecutive birdies on holes 15-18 shot him up the leaderboard into a tie for 19th and a final round score of 65. 

Donovan says that Lague stood out this weekend.

“I was really impressed with Shea,” Donovan said. “In his first college tournament, I’m really proud of what he has done and there is lots of room for him to be a great player down the road.”

Shea Lague (T19th) and University of Arizona’s Sam Sommerhauser (T6th) were the only two freshmen in the Top 20.

Finishing third on the team and in a tie for 24th overall at 5-under was senior Zihao Jin. Jin was a pillar of consistency with three-day scores of 68-69-68 which included fifteen consecutive pars in the final round on Sunday. His 40 total pars this weekend is tied for the third most out of any golfer in the field. Jin was also the only Aztec without a bogey or double-bogey on the final day of the tournament. 

Senior Puwit Anupansuebsai — a Golfweek Preseason All-American Third-Team selection— came in 31st overall at 4-under and was another one that used a strong final round to improve his and the team’s score on Sunday. Similar to Lague, Anupansuebsai caught fire in the back nine recording birdies on holes 12, 15, 16 and 18 en route to a 3-under 67 for the day.

Senior Steve Sugimoto finished his weekend tied for 47th at 1-under. Sugimoto played his best golf on Saturday shooting a 4-under 66 that included seven birdies. Unfortunately, trouble was afoot at the start of round three for Sugimoto as he took a triple bogey on the first hole which he had birdied a day prior. He was able to improve his day with an impressive back nine however with three birdies and six pars. 

Freshman Jack Townsend competed in this tournament but as an individual so his strokes did not factor into the overall team score. Townsend took 89th at 16-over for a total of 226. After a rocky first day at 12-over, Townsend was able to right the ship on Saturday with an even-par 70 and a 4-over 74 on Sunday.

After a promising first tournament, SDSU looks to build off this performance as they head to Gold Mountain Golf Club in Bremerton, Washington for the Husky Invitational from Sept. 20 to Sept.21. This is also the site of the Mountain West Championship in the spring of 2022. A strong showing here could bode well for future success come tournament time.