Golf team hopes Hawaii tournament provides chance for redemption

By Bryan Chouinard , Asst. Sports Editor

After participating in the inaugural Utah Collegiate Shootout held in St. George last weekend, where the Utes finished fifth out of six, the Utah golf team leaves today for Hawaii to participate in the second annual Kauai Collegiate Invitational. The Utes are coming off a performance in St. George that head coach Randall McCracken described as “disappointing.”

“It was only a two-round tournament,” McCracken said. “The first round really hurt us. We bounced back in the second round, but overall it was pretty disappointing.”

Once again, Utah was led by true freshman Camden Nicholson, who shot a first-round 73 before bouncing back in the third round with a 3-under 69. Nicholson was part of the team that won the Purple and Red Invitational for the Utes back in September and McCracken will be taking that same team in hopes of replicating the same success.

“(Nicholson) is a true freshman and has led our team in scoring twice this season,” McCracken said. “He still has a few things he needs to work on to become a great player, but to this point he hasn’t skipped a beat in making the transition to college golf. Camden plans on serving a mission, but I’m excited to see what kind of player he’s going to turn into down the road.”

Joining Nicholson in Hawaii will be juniors Chase Hite, Derek Adams and Mike Branca along with sophomore Kaleb Mahanes. Also participating in the Kauai Collegiate will be Gonzaga, Hawaii, James Madison, Loyola Marymount, Sacramento State, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Weber State. The Utes finished fifth in the Kauai Collegiate last season with a three-round total of 852, 12-under par.

“I think we have a strong team going to Hawaii,” McCracken said. “This is a team that has the ability to post a lot of birdies, and we’re going to be playing a course that yields a lot of birdies as well.”

The Utes leave Salt Lake City today in order to get acclimated to the time change and play a few practice rounds before the three-day tournament kicks off Monday.

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