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Men’s Golf Succeeds in Minnesota

The University of Utah men’s golf team traveled to Independence, Minnesota over the weekend to take part in a tournament.
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)


The University of Utah men’s golf team took to the links and began their 2023-2024 collegiate season last weekend, Sept. 10-11, at the University of Minnesota’s Gopher Invitational. The contest began with a 36-hole opening day on Sunday at the Windsong Farm Golf Club in Independence, Minnesota.

Day 1

Day one’s 36 holes of play got off to a slow start as the Utah team’s collective first-round score of 292 was tied for the 10th highest out of the 14-competitor field. Utah’s best score of the first round came from none other than Javier Barcos, who is entering his fifth season for the Utes as a collegiate athlete. 

The senior from Estella, Spain, shot an opening round score of 1-over par (72). Barcos’ opening-round score was matched by his teammate, Davis Johnson, and together the two Utes led their team through the first 18 holes of play. 

Both as a team, as well as individually, the Utes’ men played their strongest golf during the day’s second 18-hole round. The team recorded a cumulative team score of 282, ten strokes under their first-round total (292), and every member improved on their first round score, with the exception of Barcos. 

Braxton Watts earned the Utes’ most improved athlete of day one. After an opening round score of 4-over (75), Watts bounced back with a 3-under (68) round to finish the day. Watts’ exceptional second round began with a bogey, but the Farmington, Utah native carded four birdies through the first nine holes and another two on the back to close out the day strong. 

Other than Watts, both Johnson and Go Nakatsukasa had respectable round two scores. Both golfers managed an even-par round (71), better than each golfer’s first round stroke total. 

“It’s crazy how bunched up the scoring is,” said head coach Garrett Clegg in response to the team’s day-one efforts. “We are in 11th place and we are only 11 shots off the lead after 36 holes. Overall, we have to be better! We came back in the second round and played better and hopefully tomorrow we can build off of what we did this afternoon and play a lot better golf!”

Day 2

Day two of the invitational on Sept. 11th left much to be desired from the Utah team. In terms of team play, the Utes scored their highest round of the tournament with a four-person team total of 296 strokes. That total was a team-worst for the weekend.

The Utes’ best day two performance came from the likes of Brandon Robison who mustered a score of even-par (71) in the invitational’s third round. This was Robison’s best round of the weekend as he scored a 2-over (73) and 1-over (72) in the first and second rounds respectively. 

After his team-leading day two performance, Robison earned the Utes’ best individual finish of the weekend in a tied 31st place overall. Watts shot a 74 in the final round to finish 37th place, with Johnson following closely, finishing the weekend in 40th place. 

Barcos and Nakatsukasa struggled mightily in the final round both scoring five-over and finishing the tournament in 55th and 62nd place respectively. After the dust had settled, the Utah men’s team finished the weekend in 13th out of 14 teams with a final 54-hole team tally of 18 strokes over par. 

In other news, the Utes had a few golfers competing in an adjacent Minnesota golf tournament. Peter JungSergio Jimenez and Gabriel Palacios, all newcomers to the U, competed in the Minnesota Golf Classic where each one placed inside of the competition’s top-10 individual rankings. 

Jung was the Utah men’s highest finisher, placing fourth out of 115 competitors. Through 54 holes at the Pioneer Creek Golf Course in Maple Plains, Minn. Jung finished with a truly impressive 7-under par score. 

Moreover, Jimenez and Palacios, both finished the tournament at 4-under par and were tied for ninth place at the tournament’s end. Each one of these competitors has a bright future at the University of Utah. Palacios himself was a top recruit for the Utes’ golf program as he was rated as the No. 1 junior golfer in Guatemala before his time in college. Additionally, Jung arrived at the U this year after two seasons with the Washington State Cougars. 

The Utah men’s golf team travels to Bremerton, Washington, on Sept. 18 to take part in the Husky Invitational. 


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About the Contributors
Austin Eames, Sports Writer
Austin Eames began writing for the Daily Utah Chronicle as a junior. Now a senior at the U, he writes for the Sports desk. Originally from Mission Viejo, California, he loves the beach but was willing to trade it in for the gorgeous Utah mountains. He loves most if not all sports, especially Lakers basketball and Chargers football. In his free time, you can find him in the never-ending pursuit of improving his golf game.
Jonathan Wang
Jonathan Wang, Photographer
Jonathan Wang is a photographer of The Daily Utah Chronicle and is pursuing a degree in electrical engineering. He joined the Chronicle in August of 2021. In addition, Jonathan is also a photographer for Utah's athletics department. In his freshman year at the University of Utah, Jonathan covered almost every athletic event, from football, volleyball, beach volleyball, tennis, swim to NCAA Gymnastics Regionals. In his free time, Jonathan enjoys swimming, skiing and hanging out with friends.

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