SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The Utah men’s golf season came to an end on Sunday afternoon as the team was unable to advance to Monday’s final stroke play round. Shooting their lowest team score of the NCAA Championships (296, +12) in the third round, the Utes totaled 904 (+64) for the tournament to finish in 27th – their highest finish since their last appearance at the championships in 1988 when Utah placed 29th.
“Today was our best round of the week. Score wise it was only one stroke lower than the first round, but overall it was much better,” head coach Garrett Clegg said. “I know this wasn’t the national championship that we wanted, but it was great to be here. It was a huge learning opportunity for Javier, Martin and Braxton. Hopefully next year we will be back here to finish our season and they will be better prepared for what is in front of them.”
As one of the last teams to tee off this afternoon with the College of Charleston in windy conditions, the Utes finished their championship appearance on a strong note as freshmen Braxton Watts and Martín León paced Utah with their best performances of the weekend. Watts shot the low round for the Utes, turning in a 72 (+2) with a team best four birdies on his scorecard. Watts bested his second-round performance by 14 strokes and his first-round score by five strokes. Starting on the front nine, Watts started his round with a bogey on the first hole and saw a four-hole stretch going birdie-bogey-birdie-bogey to make the turn at 1-over. Watts collected a pair of birdies on the back and three bogeys to card his best round of the weekend, finishing with a total of 237 (+27) for the tournament.
Leon played some real solid golf this afternoon, shooting a 73 (+3) to top his second-round score by seven strokes. Like Watts, Martin left with a bogey on the first hole but bounced back immediately with five straight pars before a bogey on the par four seventh put him at 2-over heading into the back. Leon found his lone birdie on the par four 14th hole, in between a pair of pars and bogeys he made to go 1-over on the back. With his 73, Leon totaled 234 (+24) for the weekend.
Playing steady all three days, Javier Barcos shot a 75 (+5) in his final round of the season with a pair of birdies on the card. After a bogey on hole three, Barcos started to gain some momentum with two birdies and a pair over his next three holes but would enter into a rough stretch of four straight bogeys right in the heart of his round. During his last eight holes, Barcos parred six and bogeyed two as he totaled a team low score of 222 (+12) in his championship appearance.
Blake Tomlinson’s career as a Ute came to an end on Sunday as he posted a 76 (+6) in his final round. Starting off his day, Tomlinson bogeyed the first and double bogeyed the third before finding himself in a groove with four pars and a birdie over his next six holes. He would bogey the ninth hole right before making the turn and picked up three more on the back nine while parring six to shoot a pair of 38’s on each side and end with a championship total of 226 (+16).
Tristan Mandur also played his final tournament for Utah, enduring a roller coaster of a round to turn in a 12-over 82. Mandur recorded a double bogey to start his afternoon and bogeyed three consecutive holes entering the par three eighth hole. Getting back on track with a par, Mandur executed his shots on the par fourth ninth to pick up the first of two birdies on his scorecard. It was an eventful back nine for Mandur with one birdie, four bogeys and two doubles to shoot a 43 (+8) and tie Leon with a 234 (+24) for the tournament.
“It was an outstanding season for the golf program and the team set a new standard for future teams to measure themselves. We played great golf for most of the year and as a group we were extremely consistent,” said Clegg. “The future is extremely bright with Javier leading the way for two more years. With the emergence of Martin and Braxton, I expect our program to continue to be a force on the national scene. We have incredible people within our program and it is a great time to be a Ute!”