CSUN men’s golf repeats as Bill Cullum Invitational champs

The+scores+for+each+Matador+in+the+Bill+Cullum+Invitational.+Senior+Felix+Schrott+earned+a+victory+for+the+first+time+in+his+two+years+as+a+Matador.

Edward Segal

The scores for each Matador in the Bill Cullum Invitational. Senior Felix Schrott earned a victory for the first time in his two years as a Matador.

Alexis Martinez, Reporter

The Matadors men’s golf team achieved their highest finish of the season as they scraped for first place over California Baptist University by one stroke. CSUN was propelled by the efforts of senior Felix Schrott, who shot for number one to give the Matadors the win at the Bill Cullum Invitational for the second year in a row.

This was Schrott’s first win as a Matador since he arrived at CSUN in the fall of 2021. The senior earned two third-place finishes last season and claimed fourth in the Big West Championship.

“I think it definitely helps me relax a little bit more now,” Schrott said. “I wanted that first win really badly, especially after coming short a couple of times last year.”

The men’s golf team played on its home ground at The Oaks Club at Valencia, a course of lush greenery around the 18 holes. The Matadors hosted nine teams in the 2022 Bill Cullum Invitational, which lasted from Oct. 10-11.

Big West Conference members in the 10-team field included UC Irvine and the University of Hawaii, which claimed third and fourth, respectively. Five of seven members from the Matadors finished in the top 30.

The Matadors started 5-under in the first round, while in the next round, they earned a collective best 8-under 280. The Matadors also secured the lowest par-5 score in the tournament with a 16-under.

“We have a talented team and this is our home course,” CSUN head coach Jim Bracken said. “They’re comfortable out there, and yeah, they are pretty confident out there and had gotten a pretty good finish to finish by one shot.”

Schrott earned the tournament’s best result, achieving a 6-under on the course and pocketing an eagle. He tied Darien Zhao of UC Irvine, but won the one-hole playoff to claim first.

“Knowing the course very well helped me mentally because I knew what I was able to win on that golf course since I always played really good on it,” Schrott said. “In addition to that I think since I know the course really well [I know] what shots I can and cannot hit.”

The efforts of senior Brandon McDonough were also rewarded, as he racked up the Matadors’ other two eagles and drove the ball to settle on par in a tie for 14th place.

CSUN’s best player statistically this season, senior Eirik Thomassen, did not improve from his tied-for-second finish last year on this course, shooting for 4-over this time around. He scored a double bogey in the first round and landed on par in the second.

Thomassen continued his consistent play in the third round, pummeling the ball for five birdies. He rounded out the course with a 1-over, which put him tied with two Big West players for 26th place.

Round three was not favorable for many of the Matadors, as it was the only round in which CSUN shot over par.

“We had some poor execution,” Bracken said about the team’s struggles on Oct. 11. “We think we got pretty aggressive on some holes and missed it on the wrong spot with the last round.”

Sophomore Nick Fowlkes had the best round three performance for the Matadors, clubbing the ball in a 4-under effort. Fowlkes’ effort on day two, along with his strong performance in the first and second rounds, pushed him to second-best on the team. His production placed him tied for sixth place with a 3-under.

While senior Paul-Louis Gachet shot for solid outings in the first and third rounds, the second round proved his best showing. He collected five birdies with a 1-under in round two, enough to finish tied for 22nd.

Seniors Thomas Burou and Ian MacKay represented CSUN in the individual competition. They both went cold in this tournament, finishing tied for 53rd and 59th, respectively.

McDonough led the team in eagles, scoring two, while Fowlkes seized the most birdies on the team with 15, just short of the 16 achieved by Zhao.

The Matadors will attempt to carry this momentum to the 2022 Visit Stockton Pacific Invitational, which will take place from Oct. 21-23 at the Stockton Golf & Country Club.

“Our goal is to make regionals or win the conference championship,” Bracken said. “We finished third at the conference last year and basically we have the same team that finished third and [we are] looking forward to doing better.”