San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Men’s golf looks to bounce back at the Southern Highlands Collegiate

Coming off their first event outside the top 10 since September, Tyler Kowack and the Aztecs hope to build with postseason play approaching
Emily Augustine
Graphic by Emily Augustine.

The San Diego State men’s golf team started their spring season just as they had left off from the fall, finishing in the top 10 with a tie for third place at the Southwestern Invitational.

That event marked the third consecutive time the Aztecs have finished inside the top 10, dating back to September.

However, the streak came to an end on Saturday, Feb. 17, with SDSU finishing 12th overall in the 20-team field at the John A. Burns Intercollegiate in Lihue, Hawaii.

The 25 mph winds at the Ocean Course Hokuala proved to be a challenge, as junior Justin Hastings was the only Aztec to finish under par at 6-under, placing fifth out of 122 golfers.

Despite Hastings’ great performance, SDSU shot 8-over-par as a team over the 54-hole event, with only two Aztecs recording an under-par round.

“Obviously, it wasn’t our best result… but it was a good learning experience, and I think our team needed that,” said sophomore Tyler Kowack. “We came out, and the conditions were windy, and it was brutal out there in Hawaii and we kind of got exposed a little bit.”

Throughout the season, SDSU’s success as a team has seemingly coincided with Kowack’s success.

In SDSU’s three consecutive top 10 finishes, Kowack finished in the top 10 individually every time, which included an individual victory at the William H. Tucker Intercollegiate, where he holed out for eagle on his last hole to win by one stroke.

However, the wind and the conditions that presented themselves in Hawaii forced Kowack to make adjustments he didn’t realize he would need to make.

“The fact that I didn’t prepare as much for the wind kind of led to a mediocre result for myself,” Kowack said. “I hit a high cut, so when there is wind in your face, the ball is going nowhere… so I think that going forward I need to make sure that I’m doing better with identifying the conditions and some of the shots that I may need to hit.”

Although SDSU didn’t perform as well as they may have hoped, Kowack believes this event can be used as a building block for the postseason charge they’re trying to make.

“We kind of needed to go through something like that to realize, okay these are the things we need to work on if we want to make a postseason run,”  Kowack said. “We are a really good team, and we have a ton of really good players who can compete day in and day out… so I think this was a good experience for us to look back and think of what we need to be doing differently in practice…qualifying… and when we get to the event, what are the things we really need to focus on?”

Kowack and the Aztecs will now have a few days to prepare before hitting the road again to compete in the Southern Highlands Collegiate at Southern Highlands Golf Club in Las Vegas.

Unlike this past event, Kowack has experience playing at Southern Highlands Golf Club since he played in this tournament last year.

“It’s a very difficult golf course… it’s usually pretty cold, it’s usually pretty windy, the greens are firm, the fairways are very narrow and they grow out the rough,” Kowack said. “I think that last year I got too aggressive. I felt like I wanted to make birdies too bad, whereas a lot of people in the field were playing a lot smarter golf than I did.”

As Kowack and the Aztecs get ready to tee it up in Las Vegas, building confidence as they inch closer to trying to three-peat at the Mountain West conference championship will be a point of emphasis.

“Obviously, the regular season is important, but you want to be peaking when it comes to the postseason,” Kowack said. “Getting that swagger and confidence is so huge because if you go out there, you want to be able to believe you’re the best.”

The Aztecs will begin play in the Southern Highlands Collegiate from Feb. 25–27.

About the Contributor
Emily Augustine, '23-24 Graphics Editor