The Washburn Ichabod golf team was only nine strokes away from repeating as champions of the CSU-Monterey Bay Otter Invitational last Tuesday.
Finishing with a score of 42-over 906, the Ichabods took second place to CSU-Stanislaus in the three-round tournament at the Bayonet Golf Course in Seaside, Calif.
“We didn’t come out with a win, so it could’ve gone a lot better. The team we lost to was one of the teams we beat last year, and we believe we’re better than them,” said sophomore Matt Lazzo. “But all in all, we played really well.”
Maybe one of the reasons the Ichabods weren’t able to repeat as champions of the tournament was because this year’s Otter Invitational was played at a different course.
“The place that hosted the tournament has two courses on their site. Last year we played on Blackhorse, where this year we played on Bayonet,” said Lazzo. “And Bayonet is for sure the tougher of the two courses.”
The Bayonet golf course was under reconstruction last season when the tournament was held at Blackhorse, said Lazzo, and the renovations made did not make the course easier.
“It was a tough course, probably the toughest one we’ve played all year,” said Lazzo. “It’s actually like a big golf course where they hold professional tournaments.”
Individually, four out of five of the Washburn golfers finished in the top 11, including junior Matt Ewald, who tied for second with a 9-over 225. His 71 in the third round was the best round shot by any golfer in the tournament and helped the Ichabods to a third-round best of 299. Lazzo finished one stroke back of Ewald with a 10-over 226, getting him a fifth-place tie.
Senior Ryan Deutsch finished tied for ninth with a 12-over 228. Junior Matt Salome, who finished right behind Deutsch, had a 13-over 229, tying for eleventh.
“We played pretty good, but we got out to a slow start and never recovered,” said Salome. “We gained some momentum with a good final 18 holes of golf but the course was too tough to make a full comeback.”
John Robbins, Washburn’s fifth golfer, tied for 36th with a 22-over 238.
“Stanislaus is a good team. They’re ranked in the top 10 nationally,” said Salome. “But we know we’re a better team than them, and we know that we can match up with them. We’ll see them again at nationals.”
The Ichabod golfers now have a week break before heading to Branson, Mo., to attempt a repeat performance as champions of the MIAA and the conference championship.
“Branson Creek golf course is a pretty tough course but will seem much easier compared to the course we just played on,” said Lazzo.
After winning all four MIAA events this season, the Ichabods lead the conference with 32 points. The next closest team is Central Missouri, with 24.5 points. All the Washburn golfers have to do to win the conference is finish in the top four, but they have their goal set on winning the entire thing for their fifth MIAA championship in the last six seasons.
“We’re not looking to just win by default,” said Lazzo. “We want to get our 10th-straight conference win and win the conference championship.”