(Photo: Sun Devil Athletics)
No. 7 Arizona State didn’t follow its script this week at the 70th annual Western Intercollegiate in Santa Cruz, California. Inconsistencies plagued the Sun Devils in the first round, which has happened in most events this season. They were trying to catch up to an elite field after the front nine of the first day.
The Western Intercollegiate is one of the last chances for the six top-25 teams in the field to tune up leading into their respective conference championships. This meant there was little room for error for the Sun Devils, who were consistently behind juggernaut programs like USC and Cal.
The Sun Devils opened round one with a combined seven birdies through the first three holes of the tournament, taking an early lead.
The lead was short-lived as bogeys soon followed, dropping ASU back into the cluster of teams around even par.
Senior Jon Rahm, coming off a win in his last event in the ASU Thunderbird Invitational, had an over-par opening round of 2-over (72) that pushed him all the way down into a tie for 38th heading into the second day.
With Rahm unable to separate himself from the pack on the first day, junior Jared du Toit and senior Max Rottluff each made large contributions.
The pair each shot a 3-under (67) to put them in a tie for third place after round one, trailing the lead set by Oregon sophomore Aaron Wise.
ASU played the first round in plus-7 and sat in ninth place at the end of the afternoon, 16 strokes behind leading Oregon.
The second round would best be described as a house divided. Rahm, du Toit and Rottluff, who were playing nearly flawlessly, combined for a total score of eight-under on the afternoon with Rottluff leading the way with a four-under round.
The second round was a rough one for the rest of the Sun Devil roster as each of the four remaining players recorded at least one double bogey on their score card by the time the day was over.
Even with the solid efforts of Rahm, du Toit and Rottluff, ASU only mustered a team score of plus-1 on day two, solidifying its place in the fifth spot heading into the final day, 16 strokes back of the lead.
The last round of the tournament was its weakest.
Shooting a final round team score of 368, ASU fell from fifth place to eighth on a day in which the team recorded five double bogeys, three triple bogeys and a quintuple bogey.
Even with their final-day struggles, the Sun Devils still had Rottluff (T-4), Rahm (T-8) and du Toit (T-12) finish in the top 15.
Although it was not the final round ASU wanted heading into the Pac-12 Championship, the team still has 16 days until it tees it up in Salt Lake City for the conference title.