September 16, 2015
Champions Crowned at St. Mary’s Invitational at Poppy Hills
Gonzaga’s Sean Walsh flirted with the course record en route to earning medalist honors, while San Diego State had an impressive debut on the new par-71 Poppy Hills Golf Course.
Walsh, a senior, posted a stellar, bogey-free 5-under 66 Wednesday to win medalist honors at the 10th annual St. Mary’s Invitational, which was held at Poppy Hills for the first time since 2009. The 66, which was a stroke off the Poppy Hills’ course record of 65, gave Walsh a three-day total of 5-under 208, good enough to defeat co-runner-ups Jonathan De Los Reyes and Pavan Sagoo of the host Gaels.
Starting on the back-nine, Walsh went 4-under with birdies on holes No.10, No.12, No.13 and No.15. After making the turn, he’d tack on another birdie on the par-3 6th to get to 5-under. Walsh had a shot at tying the record, which was set by De Los Reyes at this year’s NCGA Stroke Play Championship, but he’d settle for pars on his last three holes. On the finishing par-5 9th, his birdie try from 4 feet just missed.
“I was fortunate early on to make a few putts. From there, I just didn’t make any mistakes,” Walsh said.
For Walsh, the week marked his trip around the new Poppy Hills, which re-opened in 2014 after a complete renovation.
“I thought the course was great. It suited my game well,” Walsh said. “The greens were super pure. I rarely saw any pitch marks or spike marks on them. The superintendent did a great job.”
Both De Los Reyes, a senior, and Sagoo, a sophomore, had final rounds of 70 to come in at 210. Coincidentally, both Gaels also had matching first and second round scores of 71 and 70, respectively.
While De Los Reyes came up short to match or beat his own record over the tournament, he did have the highlight shot of the tournament. In the finale, he’d hole out for his first career double-eagle from 220 yards out on the par-5 9th using a 6-iron.
Having played in numerous NCGA events, De Los Reyes said he’s getting a grasp on how to score on the new Poppy Hills.
“No.1 you have to keep it in the fairway,” he said. “Also, you can’t chip a lot around the greens. You can, but there’s some super thin lies and the greens and firm.”
San Diego State shot a final round 285 to finish with a total of 1-under 851, edging runner-up St. Mary’s by four strokes. The Gaels had a final round 282 to come in at 855.
The Aztecs were the highest ranked squad coming into the tournament, according to Golfstat, at No.27. Head coach Ryan Donovan also was impressed with the layout.
“We haven’t been here before,” Donovan said. “We’ve been missing out.”