After their first six tournaments, the Arizona State men’s golf team is inching closer and closer to the postseason. The Sun Devils have yet to finish outside of the top three, but haven’t put themselves in positions to win coming down the stretch.
Arizona State’s fall season began in September with back-to-back tournaments at the end of September, a third place finish at the the Olympia Fields Invitational and a second place finish at the South Dakota State Invitational. In mid-October the team played in their two most competitive tournaments, the Alister MacKenzie Invitational and the Tavistock Invitational, with a second place finish in both tournaments.
After a long break that spanned October 20th to February 4th, the Sun Devils started their spring season with back-to-back tournaments. The Sun Devils tied for third at the Waikoloa Invitational in Hawaii and finished second at the Prestige at PGA West.
“I’m not too focused or concerned with winning tournaments now, I want to make sure we’re winning and playing our best golf in April and May,” said ASU’s head golf coach, Tim Mickelson. “What I’m feeling good about is the positions that we’ve been in coming down the stretch and how the guys feel about our chances in the postseason.”
Although the Sun Devils have been successful this season, they have had recurring struggles with not being able to close out tournaments and starting slow and trying to catch up to their opponents the rest of the way.
“When it comes down to it we’re just a deep solid team, we’ve been playing really well,” said Jared De Toit, who has placed in the top-10 in the last two tournaments.
“There are some things that we can work on but our success proves our ranking. Our last rounds need to be a little better if we want to maintain the leads we’ve had and we can’t start as slow as we have been,” De Toit said. “But overall I like what we’re doing and we’re only going to improve.”
The Sun Devils are hoping that their early success will translate into the postseason and they can clean up some of the troubles they’ve had. It’s only February and there’s a lot of season left to play for ASU, their eyes are set on bigger things than these six tournaments that they’ve played.
“Anytime you’re able to put yourself in a position to win coming down the stretch you’re gaining experience that is very valuable towards the end of the year when you start to get to the postseason,” Mickelson said. “We’ve had a chance to win pretty much every single tournament going into the final day, we have to clean up some clear problems that were facing, but that experience we’re gaining is going to help us later in the season when we’re trying to win conference, regionals and nationals.”
The Sun Devils have the next week off but will continue to gain experience and put it to the test March 7th at the Southern Highlands Invitational in Las Vegas.