Men’s golf places fifth in invitational

The team bounced back after a poor performance on day one


Courtesy of the Golf Channel

Men’s golf got off to a poor start on day one, but the team bounced back.

Nick Hayman, Staff Writer

Early last week, the Wake Forest men’s golf team traveled to Westlake Village, CA for the first tournament of the Spring season: The Southwestern Invitational. Hosted by Pepperdine at North Ranch Country Club, the three-day tournament featured 12 teams looking to start their season with a bang. 

Day one featured a shaky start for the Deacons, as they finished the day with a score of 295 (+7) to sit at 11th place as a team. The team was led by sophomore Michael Brennan, whose round of -2 landed him at 7th place and just six shots off the lead in the individual leaderboard. Following Brennan, senior Alex Fitzpatrick (+1) recovered from two early bogeys to finish T25 on the individual leaderboard. 

After a three-month break and weeks of practicing in cold Winston-Salem conditions, it was a big change of pace to open the season on the sunny California coast. Regarding the different conditions, Fitzpatrick said “traveling across the country for our first event was always going to be a little tough. The weather and golf course were completely different than it was here [in Winston-Salem] making our first couple rounds a little difficult to adjust to”. 

Wake Forest flipped the switch on day two, charging three spots up the leaderboard with a combined score of 286 (-2) that got them to +5 and T7 in the tournament. Brennan recorded another 70 (-2) to jump up one spot to 6th on the individual leaderboard. 

The third and final day of the Southwestern Invitational saw another strong showing for Wake Forest, as they recorded a 288 (E) to finish at +5 for the tournament and gave them a fifth-place finish. The top-five finish was a long way away from first place, which was taken by the Arizona State Sun Devils at a whopping -30, but the Demon Deacons showed glimmers of hope in the second and third rounds, and have lots to look forward to for the rest of the Spring season. 

“I think if we had one more round to play, we would have definitely moved up a lot more,” Fitzpatrick said. “We were just starting to get used to the style of golf course ahead of us.”

Despite the score, there were plenty of bright spots, particularly the play of Brennan. After three consecutive rounds of (-2) 70, Brennan finished at -6 and tied for second on the individual leaderboard. Brennan noted the resilience displayed by the team after a tumultuous first round, saying “it is very promising that we improved every round thereafter.”

There are plenty of positives to take away from the first tournament of the season. 

“It was an awesome venue to knock off some of our rust and get a great baseline for preparation in the coming weeks before we attend the Seminole Intercollegiate at the end of February,” Brennan said. The course conditions last week at North Ranch also provided a unique opportunity. 

Fitzpatrick noted, “It’s a very similar style and grass to Grayhawk Golf Club where the National Championship is, and therefore we’ll have had some practice before we get there.” 

The team will have just under a month to prepare for their next tournament, at Camp Creek Golf Club. While they are focused on playing well in Florida, they also recognize that they want to peak at the right time. 

As Brennan put it, “it’s not about how we play this early in the season, it’s a slow climb to ACC Tournament and the National Championship.”