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ASU Men’s Golf: Sun Devils lose five-stroke lead at The Prestige

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ASU Men’s Golf came into the Prestige at PGA West as the defending champions and one of the favorites in an elite field, after a come from behind victory over No. 16 Stanford last season.

John Rahm and Jared De Toit kept the No. 9 Sun Devils in competition throughout the three rounds of the Monday to Wednesday tournament, but a poor third day cost the Sun Devils a fight for first place. Arizona State came into the final day five strokes ahead of Louisiana State University, but a mediocre round from the Sun Devils and an extraordinary round by the Tigers gave LSU the win.

“We put ourselves in a position to win and I’m proud of our guys for that, but we weren’t able to close the deal,” said Tim Mickelson, ASU’s head golf coach. “LSU also played a phenomenal round of golf and even if we played better I don’t know if we could have beaten them the third day.”

Throughout the tournament the second hole was a big struggle for the Sun Devils as they shot +8 over the three days. Arizona State saw their lead dwindle down early in the third day as ASU continued to struggle on the second hole. Ultimately LSU took the lead and never looked back.

“The second hole absolutely killed us that final day, we had everyone drive it into the desert. After that our lead was stripped and we’re already playing from behind.” Mickelson said. “In my mind we battled pretty well to just get to second after we struggled early.”

World amateur No. 1 John Rahm continued his success this season carding his three-day total at eight-under, with a final score of 205. Rahm has yet to finish outside of the top 10 in six tournaments in 2015-16 season. He finished tied for third at the Prestige, adding to his legacy as one of the best collegiate golfers in the country.

“Playing behind John is just incredible, with how respected he is around the nation,” De Toit said. “It adds a lot to my confidence and my game just being able to play with him and be around him.”

Continuing to improve for the Sun Devils, Jared De Toit outplayed Rahm for much of the tournament and recorded his best finish as a Sun Devil. De Toit has now finished inside the top 10 in his past two tournaments notching a seventh place finish and a four-under, 209 final score.

“I’m just seeing positives now,” De Toit said. “The past two weeks I’ve been feeling better and better about what I’m doing, so if I just continue we’ll see where it goes.”

Rounding out the Sun Devil starting five was Ki Taek Lee, -1, putting up a strong showing in his hometown. The other two Sun Devils to compete, senior Alberto Sanchez and Tobias Eden, finished +6 and +11 respectively.

Although LSU came back to defeat the Sun Devils, with the level of competition at the Prestige there are still many positives to garner with a second place finish.

“This is one of the better fields we’re going to see all year. We lost to the defending national champions, but we beat three teams that were officially ranked ahead of us at the time,” Mickelson said. “So if we lose to one team but lose to three teams ranked ahead of us that’s a very successful weekend.”

Next for the Sun Devils is the Southern Highlands Invitational, held in Las Vegas starting March 7th. Arizona State most recently finished tied for third at the tournament.

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