Golf takes 1st place at tournament

By By Bryan Chouinard

By Bryan Chouinard

For the first time under head coach Randall McCracken, the Utah men’s golf team took first place at a tournament.

The Utes placed first at the Purple and Red Invitational held Monday and Tuesday.

“I could be wrong,” McCracken said, “but I think (the last time Utah won an event) was 1988. I think we won the conference championship then, and I don’t know if we’ve won any events since then. It hasn’t been under my tenure. We’ve had a few second-place finishes, but this is great.”

As it turns out, the last time Utah won an event was 2002 when the Utes won the Countrywide Home Loans Intercollegiate in Northridge, Calif., by 18 strokes. Tuesday’s win was more closely contended. Three rounds weren’t enough to crown the Purple and Red champion after the Utes and University of Alabama Little Rock both finished with a team score of 867: three over par. The Utes made up 20 strokes on UALR during the final 18 holes of the tournament, after finishing the first two rounds of play in seventh place.

A sudden-death playoff between the two schools ensued after the teams were told the scores. The format would be a sudden-death playoff for all five members of each team. The teams teed off the 10th tee, and it only took one hole to separate the Utes from UALR.

“I was pretty calm, to tell you the truth,” McCracken said. “At that point, it was hopefully our time to win; these guys did what they needed to do.”

Sophomore Kaleb Mahanes made the lone birdie for either team in the playoff, and when a member from UALR missed a 2 1/2 foot putt that would’ve forced a second playoff hole, the tournament was won.

Utah was led in scoring by freshman Camden Nicholson, who finished the tournament tied for fifth place after shooting a 1-under-par score of 215 over the three rounds8212;highlighted by a 3-under 69 in his second round.

“I knew Camden would be good,” McCracken said. “I didn’t know he would be that good, and we’re excited. The kid can play some golf, and it’s great to have him as part of the equation.”

After the first tournament of the year where Utah finished 15th, the Utes have recovered nicely and posted back-to-back top-two finishes.

“I figured we would be a lot better than last year, which we’re turning out to be,” McCracken said. “We were obviously very disappointed with the way we played in New Mexico; that’s not how this team plays. So was this unexpected? I would say 50-50. I figured we would come out and play well, but these guys are starting to show some guts and they are starting to show they can get it done down the stretch, which we didn’t do last year.”

The Utes will look to keep the momentum rolling Monday when Utah will take part in the Wyoming Desert Classic.

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