Sean Yu (SJSU Athletics photo)
First, the golf world will be struck by the scenery at Pasatiempo Golf Club, host site of this week’s Western Intercollegiate. The Alister Mackenzie design will also showcase college golf’s best during three days of Golf Channel coverage this week
That started on Monday with the home team. Host San Jose State went 4 under in the opening round, gaining a two-shot lead on USC and Oregon.
What does it take to be successful at Pasatiempo? In a word, energy.
“You’ve got to have energy, ’cause this golf course can take it out of you,” San Jose State head coach John Kennaday said. “It can very easily break your heart very quickly. You have to keep your energy and have a ‘can-do’ attitude. This is a lot about attitude out there.”
Kennaday’s team fed off Sean Yu
as the day went on and used the junior’s momentum to climb right up the board. Yu bogeyed his first hole of the day, but with birdies at Nos. 7 and 9, got back to even par at the turn.
He made five consecutive birdies from Nos. 11-15 then added one more at No. 17 for a back-nine 29 and an opening 64.
USC’s Justin Suh
, winner of this event in 2017, and Stanford’s Isaiah Salinda
, both seniors, matched that effort. Both are from the Bay Area and Suh grew up playing Pasatiempo.
For Yu, it was a career round – and with the cameras on, it was a good day for it.
“It’s great for us because college golfers don’t really get to a chance to showcase their abilities to play on the golf course,” he said. “Playing in front of cameras definitely proves that we’ve got game.”
Yu’s teammate Kevin Velo contributed 1-under 69 and Nate Jetter added an even-par 70. The Western is the rare play-six-count-five format, so San Jose State also counted rounds of 71 and 72, respectively, from Matthew Heitel and Ben Campbell.
It’s a team effort that says a lot for how Kennaday views this squad – one that has “been through the gauntlet.” The past few seasons have been lean, and San Jose State has gone winless since the 2012 Western Athletic Conference Championship. This season, the Spartans have chased titles. There have been four top-5 finishes so far this season.
“This year’s team above most, has really come together,” Kennaday said. “They hang out together, and we move as a pack whenever we are doing something. I love this team and to see what they did today, I’m very proud.”
San Jose State is No. 61 in the Golfweek
/Sagarin College Rankings. USC is No. 7 while Oregon is No. 38.
Alister Mackenzie can be an equalizer, though.
Many of the teams in the Western field will move on to the Pac-12 Championship later this month. Pasatiempo is good preparation.
“I tell my guys if you can play this golf course, everything after this is going to look easy because the visuals out here, the greens are so difficult, so demanding that everything after this gets easy,” Oregon head coach Casey Martin said. “I love playing here right before we have our conference championships, and regionals and on.”
Information from San Jose State Athletics used in this report
ABOUT THE Western Intercollegiate
54-hole men's college tournament hosted by
San Jose State University. “The Western” is
of the most highly recognized national
tournaments, conducted since 1946
Golf Club; a historic venue where a player’s
is always well-tested. Pasatiempo perennially
ranks among the best by all of the major golf
The format is slightly different than most college
events. Six-player teams take the best five scores
each round to determine the team score.
View Complete Tournament Information