Javier Barcos Earns Top-5 Finish for Utes In the 2023 Pac-12 Men’s Golf Championship


Jonathan Wang

Sophomore golfer Chris Bratcher golfing at the River Oaks golf course on Saturday, May 21, 2022. (Photo by Jonathan Wang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Austin Eames, Sports Writer


The Utah men’s golf team placed 11th in a 12-team field at the 2023 Pac-12 Men’s Golf Championships. This year’s championship, which took place from Fri, Apr. 28 to Sun, Apr. 30, was held at Stanford University’s home course, the Stanford Golf Course.

Despite team play which left much to be desired, the Utes did have a glimmer of hope in  Javier Barcos, who managed to finish an impressive fourth place overall in the individual standings. Barcos put together some amazing golf throughout the weekend which led to an 8-under par, 72-hole final score.


Friday, day one of the championship tournament, began with the first two 18-hole rounds of golf. The Utes were led by Barcos, who shot a total of 3-under par on the day. Barcos’ day began with an opening round score of 1-under 69 which was highlighted by a stretch of three birdies in four holes. The junior from Spain’s second round was even better, scoring 2-under 68 to cap off a strong day.

Go Nakatsukasa and Braxton Watts were the only other Utes to have a round that broke par. Both competitors managed to rebound on over-par first-round scores and bounce back with their respective scores of 1-under 69 in the second round. 

Watts was the most improved golfer on the day. After an unfortunate first-round total of 78 strokes, Watts’ second-round score came as a 9-stroke improvement to boost his way up the leaderboard. As a team, the Utes improved by a total of 13 strokes between rounds one and two.

“The afternoon was a lot better than the morning,” said head coach Garrett Clegg in regard to the first-round struggles. “Unfortunately, in the morning round, we had two players really struggle and we had to count a high score. In the afternoon, everyone played a bit better and the guys are in a much better mood.”


Day two of the tournament set the stage for not only the Utes’ best round of the tournament but also one of their finest rounds of the season. Barcos shot a 6-under 64 in his third round, en route to matching the Utes’ lowest score of the year. On the season’s biggest stage, Barcos delivered and jump-started the Utah men’s incredible day two comeback.

As a team, the Utes shot 8-under par on the day, after being 9-over just a day prior. At 8-under as a team, the Utes posted the lowest team score on the day, firmly ahead of Stanford who had the day’s second-lowest team total at 6-under. 

Other key contributors to the Utes’ day-two rebound included Watts, Nakatsukasa and Hunter Howe. Watts was the proud owner of the Utes’ second-lowest score of the day; Assisted by an eagle on the seventh hole, the sophomore from Farmington, Utah went into the clubhouse 2-under on the day. Nakatsukasa and Howe also provided the Utes with strong play, finishing with a final tally of 69 (-1) and 70 respectively. Jesper von Reedtz also greatly improved on his day one score, shooting a 71 in round three.

“Any time you have a player shoot 64, that helps the team score a ton,” Clegg said. “But overall, we had five players play really solid rounds of golf. Braxton played a great final nine holes to shoot 68, Go and Hunter were rock solid all day to shoot 69 and 70, respectively. It was good to see Jesper shoot 71 after he really struggled yesterday. Overall, it was a really good day for the boys.”


Sunday, the final day of the Pac-12 Championship tournament, wasn’t the Utes’ strongest day on the links. However, the day still managed to produce some satisfactory results due to Javier Barcos’ historic finish.

By scoring a 1-over 71, Barcos managed to hold onto the fourth-place position he earned a day before by shooting 6-under 64. With a final 72-hole total of 8-under, Barcos achieved the Utes’ second-highest finish ever in the Pac-12 Championship, only trailing Kyler Dunkle’s second-place finish in 2019. The top-10 finish was also good enough for Barcos’ fourth top-10 finish of the year. An amazing finish to an amazing season, Barcos’ performance in his junior year was even more impressive than ever.

“Javier was outstanding today,” Clegg said. “I believe that’s our second-best individual performance since we have been in the Pac-12. I’m excited to find out where Javi is sent to regionals. We will know on Wednesday.”

Besides Barcos, Nakatsukasa was the Utes’ second-highest-ranked athlete ending his weekend 6-over and in 42nd place. Howe turned in a final round score of 78 to end the tournament 11 over and in a tied 53rd place. Watts was a close fourth, finishing the weekend 12-over in a tied 57th place. Brandon Robison and Jesper von Reedtz placed 63rd and 66th respectively. As a team, the Utes’ placed 11th overall with a final tally of 32-over par. 

Utah Men’s Golf continues as Javier Barcos will represent the Utes and compete in NCAA Regionals at a location that is yet to be determined.


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