Golf: Utes Finish Third at Simpson Invitational

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Ute golfer Nathan Wunderli

The Utah men’s golf team earned its second consecutive top-three finish of the season as the Utes finished third at the Mark Simpson Colorado Invitational.

Utah finished the tournament with an overall team score of 853 (277-286-290) with a 2-over par 290 in the final round of the tournament. The Utes held onto second place heading into the final round, but after missing key shots in the final round combined with a strong surge from Wyoming caused them to slip.

“We struggled with shots that weren’t difficult to make,” said head coach Garrett Clegg. “The team in third outplayed us, and we didn’t execute down the stretch like we needed to.”

While the final round in Eire wasn’t ideal for the Utes, Clegg feels that the team is gaining momentum.

“The boys have a lot of confidence right now,” Clegg said. “They are starting to really believe in themselves. Confidence is such a huge factor in our sport, and seeing the boys starting to find that swagger will only help our young team in the long run.”

Confidence is well deserved for the Utes right now, as they have finished in the top three in consecutive tournaments for the first time since 2009. The team was led by freshman Mitchell Schow, who finished 7-under in the tournament, and he took fourth place, and Kyler Dunkle, a Colorado native, finished 5-under and ninth overall.

Youth continued to drive the Utes as freshman Jordan Costello finished 1-under par, and he took 24th individually for the tournament.

“Going in I felt like my game was in a good spot,” Costello said. “I was a little nervous because this was our first opportunity going against some big teams, but I tried to stay confident and use this as a learning experience. We all wanted to play well for Kyler, coming back to his home state, so we had that goal of having a good showing for him.”

Costello, a native of Pinedale Wyoming, said it was difficult watching the University of Wyoming overtake them in the final round of play.

“I had the offer to play at Wyoming, and have a lot of buddies that are playing there now,” Costello said. “I was bummed, I wanted to show them that we were for real. You never want another team to beat you, but at the same time, it’s fun to see your buddies play well.”

The Utes have little time to think about how Simpson ended, as the Ogio Invitational begins at Jeremy Ranch Golf and Country Club on Oct. 3-4. While the Utes are happy with the opportunity to play at home, Mother Nature promises to hinder their enjoyment at having the home crowd.

“The weather is supposed to be terrible with cold, wind and rain,” Clegg said. “We need to be the best in the worst conditions and battle the elements. If we get beat it will be because we couldn’t handle the weather. This will be a gut-check tournament more than it will be a skills tournament.”

And Costello agrees.

“Consistency is going to be the key going into the invitational,” Costello said. “It’s more about how many bogies I don’t make than how many birdies I do make. Confidence on the greens will also be huge for us next week.”

b.marshall@dailyutahchronicle.com

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