This weekend, Sonoma State University’s men’s golf team had great success after placing second in the Tim Tierney Pioneer Shootout at California State East Bay. There were 10 competitors in attendance, and the men of the golf team were able to hold fast.
They started strong Friday afternoon when they faced their competitors and pulled ahead. Ian Hofmann set a tone that would help lead the team to their final placing by taking a lead of 18 points in the tournament.
“We felt really good about our first and third round. We lost a lot of ground on the second and we know that is something we need to improve on moving forward,” senior Justin Shluker said.
Along with Hoffman’s success, Spencer Clapp made his mark in the final round of the tournament when he had the best round out of any other player.
This round not only made a huge impact in the tournament, but in all of Sonoma State’s history, it was the third-best 18-hole round.
“When I was playing I wasn’t really thinking about where I was going to end up on the leaderboard,” Clapp said. “All I was really thinking about was that our team was nine shots back of the lead, and I knew that our whole team was going to need to shoot a low number to catch East Bay.”
The team held strong despite their deficit in the second round. Keeping their team morale high, they were able to keep the tournament’s outcome in their favor.
“I think the fact that we believed in each other to go out and do our jobs,” said Shluker. “We had a good week of preparation beforehand and I think we just had a good mindset coming into the tournament.”
Shluker tied for 10th place with teammate Devin Gregg. Both men had a score of 218 at the end of the tournament.
“Overall the tournament was a good tournament for the team. Individually it was not my best performance and I felt that I need to improve a lot in the next coming weeks in order to help our team improve in the rankings,” Shluker said.
Even with the team’s success the players maintained a level of personal criticism, even Clapp, who played a large role in the team placing second struggles with this level of critique.
“It’s hard for athletes, especially when they compete at the collegiate level like we do, to face the fact that in golf sometimes you are dealt bad breaks,” Clapp said. “For me it is not easy to get over that and typically when I make my first bogey in a round I go from being completely confident to more in a cautious state of mind.”
However, even though players like Clapp face this level of personal criticism, it seems as though they are striving not to let these things affect how they play.
“This season I have been working with different tools and focusing a lot on my routine and just my overall process which is netting me really good results in tournaments. For the spring season I am averaging below par so it is definitely working,” Clapp said.
After such a successful tournament, the Sonoma State men’s team will be participating in the NDNU invitational in Livermore March 13 and 14.