Arizona State won their second team title of the year
at their own ASU Thunderbird
(Arizona State Athletics Photo)
TEMPE, AZ (March 19, 2017) -- From start to finish this week it was all about host Arizona State at the ASU Thunderbird Invitational. In Saturday's morning first round at the Karsten Golf Course the Sun Devils jumped out to an early lead and never looked back on their way to a 41-under weekend and a 20 shot victory.
The win was the 18th team title for the Sun Devils at their home event and third in the last four years.
All five players for Arizona State turned in top-30 performances and contributed throughout the week to the Sun Devils second victory of the year. Leading the way this weekend were a pair of freshman in Chun An Yu and Blake Wagoner.
After both players began the final round tied for the the 36-hole lead Yu ended up tied for second at 12-under while Wagoner placed fourth at 11-under. For Wagoner it was the best finish of his first season in the desert.
Senior Jared du Toit turned in a 9-under showing and finished fifth, junior Tobias Eden at 6-under was 10th and freshman Alex Del Rey Gonzalez tied for 27th at even-par.
In the medalist race the title went to California sophomore Collin Morikawa. Beginning the day one shot back Morikawa played an even-par first nine before pulling ahead on the back nine. Morikawa did bogey twice on the side, on the 16th and 18th holes, but birdies on the 10th, 14th, 15th and 17th holes lifted Morikawa to his first outright career collegiate title.
Morikawa trailed by two shots with four holes remaining but the outlook of the afternoon turned on the 15th hole when Morikawa rolled in a 45-foot birdie putt and then leader Yu bogeyed to even off the proceedings. Morikawa did bogey the ensuing hole, however on that same hole Yu double-bogeyed giving the Cal sophomore the lead for good.
"It feels great," Morikawa said about the win to Cal athletics. "It is a great feeling to finally close it out especially after so many close finishes. Learning how to win is very difficult and now I'll not only be able to draw from experience with solid finishes but from this win as well. I'm excited that this win happened and can't wait to contend for many more."
With the win Morikawa became the first play not named Jon Rahm to win ASU Thunderbird medalist honors since 2013.
Sharing second with Yun in the individual standings was Shintaro Ban of UNLV at 12-under, Wagoner and du Toit of ASU were fourth and fifth respectfully.
In the team standings No. 18 UNLV was a distant second at 21-under, the Arizona State B team was third at 18-under while Nevada and Washington shared fourth at 6-under.
-Arizona State and California Athletics contributed to this story
Playing at home Arizona State has opened up a huge lead following the 36-hole first day of the Arizona State Thunderbird Invitational. The Sun Devils raced out to an 18-under first round at Karsten Golf Course and then followed it up with a 19-under second round that moved them to 37-under.
As a result, ASU will carry a 21 shot advantage into Sunday's final round. Colorado State is in second place at 18-under, No. 18 UNLV is third at 16-under, in fourth place it is 14-under California while the Arizona State B Team is fifth at 12-under.
Currently Arizona State has four players inside the top-13 including, medalist leaders Chun An Yu and Blake Wagoner, both of whom are 12-under.
A decorated junior player Yu, won the 2015 Junior Western and AJGA Junior Players Championships and he is now in search of his second collegiate individual title after winning the NIT Invitational.
Yu, a freshman, reached the top of the leaderboard with scores of 67-63. In his 8-under second round, Yu played flawless golf with all of his birdies coming between Nos. 6-14. The only hole during the stretch that he didn't birdie was the 12th.
Freshman Blake Wagoner joined the lead with like Yu rounds of 67-63. Wagoner turned in a flawless round of golf in the afternoon as he carded eight birdies. After starting on the 2nd hole, Wagoner birdied the 4th, 5th, 10th, 13th, 14th, 18th, 1st and 2nd holes.
Wagoner is nearly assured the best finish of his young career after so far finishing tied for 27th at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational and tied for 60th at the Olympia Fields Invitational.
On Sunday Yu and Wagoner will look to pick up where former Sun Devil Jon Rahm left off after he won the individual title four consecutive times.
Speaking of Rahm the 63's that Yu and Wagoner shot are tied for the second lowest rounds in ASU history by a freshman only behind Rahm's 61 in the first round of the 2013 NCAA Championship.
Joining Yu and Wagoner in the top-13 are first round medalist leader Jared du Toit (T6; -8) and Tobias Eden (T13; -4).
The individual top-five is completed by Collin Morikawa (California) who at 11-under is one back and in third place, Jake Staiano (Colorado State) is one shot further back at 10-under in fourth Shintaro Ban (UNLV) is fifth at 9-under.