The UCR men’s golf team finished up their fall season at the Pacific Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 28. Riverside finished 13th out of 20 competitors, with their senior Brandon Tsujimoto leading the way with a 23rd place finish. The 13th place finish was an improvement over the Highlanders’ last tournament, the Bill Cullum Intercollegiate, where they finished 9th out of 12 teams.
Head Coach Rick Todd traces the Highlanders’ best moment of the fall season all the way back to the team’s first tournament, the Colorado Invitational, where the Highlanders were able to finish fourth against a competitive field. In that tournament, sophomore transfer Tyler Moore led the way and was in the running for the individual win before finishing in third. Todd says that his team’s great start was both a blessing and a curse because he felt like maybe his players might have thought they were better than they were. Todd then jokes that he’s no longer concerned about that after being served “humble pie” in their last three tournaments.
Since that top five finish, the Highlanders haven’t had any other notable finishes. Todd explained that the team was often at a disadvantage because of players getting sick before tournaments. Todd went into detail about when true freshman Bahram Talle played through chicken pox. “He was a sick kid. I think if I realized how sick he was I don’t think I would’ve let him play,” Todd acknowledges. “He sucked it up and played all 54 holes which is good for me to see … He tried and it means a lot to me. It shows he has some guts.”
In college golf, the team takes five players to a tourney and only the four best scores count, so Todd says knowing Talle’s score wasn’t pertinent because of his understandably sluggish play. This put pressure on the rest of his team to play safe. “The other four guys have to play a little defensive, not take as many chances,” says Todd.
Playing the game safe is the way Todd would actually prefer, but so far his players have refused to make the simpler swings. “They’ll have a ton of room to the left and water on the right. They could have mile on the left and they’ll hit it right in the water.” Todd says this happens because players try to force the issue and make “hero” plays. To the players’ credit, Todd said they have been working on making the smarter swings, which has him excited for next quarter. “It was talked about pretty much every week and they’re getting better and better with it so I’m actually looking forward to next quarter.”
The Highlanders next tournament is the Pepperdine Invitational which starts on Monday, Jan. 29 and ends on Tuesday, Jan. 30.