CSUN men’s golf finishes seventh at Nick Watney Invitational

Felix+Schrott+takes+a+swing+at+the+Nick+Watney+Invitational%2C+held+from+Oct.+26-27++in+Kingsburg%2C+Calif.+Schrott+had+the+only+eagle+for+the+Matadors%2C+hitting+2-under+on+the+first+hole+of+round+three.+This+hole+was+a+par-5.

CSUN Athletics Department

Felix Schrott takes a swing at the Nick Watney Invitational, held from Oct. 26-27 in Kingsburg, Calif. Schrott had the only eagle for the Matadors, hitting 2-under on the first hole of round three. This hole was a par-5.

Edward Segal, Sports Editor

Senior Eirik Thomassen’s second top-10 outing of the season propelled CSUN men’s golf to seventh place out of 16 teams in the Nick Watney Invitational, where the Matadors thrived in par-3 holes but struggled through the par 4s and 5s.

The Matadors came into this tournament after a seventh-out-of-24 finish at the Gene Miranda Falcon Invitational, where Thomassen tied two others for sixth place. Following that performance, CSUN men’s golf had high expectations heading into the Kings River Golf & Country Club in Kingsburg, California. However, struggles in longer holes and occasional errors resulted in the Matadors underperforming by the standards they set for themselves.

“The team and I expected better,” said head coach Jim Bracken. “We’re not going to lose sleep because we finished seventh but we definitely have more talent and are a better team than we played like in this tournament.”

CSUN broke even in the invitational after finishing 5-over on day one, needing 279 strokes to wrap up the final round. The Matadors tied for third on par 3s, but claimed seventh in par 4s, with 13 strokes separating them from sixth-place Seattle University. Par 5s proved a struggle for the Matadors as they finished 8-under, putting them third-to-last in the longest holes.

“To win as a team and individually, you have to dominate the par 5s, and unfortunately, the par 5s dominated us,” said senior Brandon McDonough. “The way they were set up was a way we weren’t used to, and that played a very big role in us not really achieving our goals this week.”

Small errors added up, causing CSUN to finish five strokes behind conference rival UC Irvine.

“We just unfortunately hit some errant shots, hit a couple out of bounds,” Bracken said. “One ball got lost and never came down out of a tree.”

The Matadors finished strong, finishing on par after a 6-over outing in the first round.

Big West Conference members CSU Long Beach and CSU Fullerton claimed first and second, respectively, with four players from each university making the top 30. Thomassen was the only Matador to crack that list.

Leading the team this season statistically, Thomassen improved from his performance at the Nick Watney Invitational last season, hitting 4-under at the tournament after his 4-over outing in his junior year. Thomassen attributed his development to how he has managed to limit his errors and capitalize on his opportunities.

“I just didn’t make that many mistakes,” Thomassen said. “I kept the ball in play the whole time and I didn’t waste any chances. I hit some good shots too.”

Seniors McDonough and Felix Schrott ended at 2-over, enough to tie with five others for 37th place. Senior Paul-Louis Gachet was the Matadors’ only other finisher in the top 50, as senior Thomas Burou and sophomore Nick Fowlkes struggled in round one and were unable to cover the ground in the last 36 holes.

Schrott secured the only eagle for the Matadors, while Thomassen led the team in birdies, scoring 1-under on 13 holes.

The Matadors will now prepare for the Bill Cullum Invitational, which will take place from Oct. 10-11 at The Oaks Club at Valencia, the course the Matadors call home.

“We know the course,” Schrott said. “We feel confident. We know we can shoot low on that course. We have to play to our best, but I am confident we are going to do well.”