Kevin Velo (SJSU Athletics photo)
The advantage that comes with knowing Pasatiempo Golf Club, site of this week’s Western Intercollegiate, has been a popular topic during tournament week. Through two rounds of the Western, San Jose State remains the top team, which shows that there’s more to this squad than home-course advantage.
San Jose State, at 1 under for 36 holes, leads Stanford by one and is six ahead of California and Stanford. Spartan senior Kevin Velo, who posted the day’s low score of 4-under 66, isn’t the least surprised.
“We’re a really solid team and I don’t think a lot of people know that,” Velo said. “I think we need to go out there and do our own thing.”
San Jose State’s opening round of 4-under 346 (the Western Intercollegiate is a play-six-count-five format) gave them the first-round lead, and the Spartans followed it with a 3-over 353 effort on Tuesday to maintain their lead.
The Spartans, ranked No. 61 in the Golfweek
/Sagarin College Rankings, have had four top-5 finishes this season, but haven’t won a team title since 2012. With an opportunity to snap that streak, San Jose State head coach John Kennaday will encourage his team to stick to the routines that got them here.
“This is a developmental tour and we’re going to keep working on the things we’ve been working on and developing and learning,” Kennaday said. “Tomorrow is a great opportunity to get some time in in a situation that we haven’t been in all that much. We’ve been in it a few times. This is a great opportunity to learn.”
Velo, with rounds of 69-66, is 5 under for the week and second individually. He trails Stanford senior Isaiah Salinda, a Bay Area product who won the Pacific Coast Amateur over the summer, by three shots.
San Jose State junior Sean Yu, who opened with 6-under 64 and a share of the lead, followed with a 71 and is tied with his teammate at 5 under. Pepperdine's Clay Feagler and USC's Cameron Henry are also on that number.
The two upperclassmen are a big reason for San Jose State’s success this week. They bring the right mindset, which influences the team culture.
“Kevin has been a fantastic leader and has helped bring this team together. He helped set the example,” Kennaday said. “He and Sean Yu have really been able to work and battle together and make each other better.”
For Velo, a five-birdie, one-bogey day was about playing Pasatiempo, a tricky Alister MacKenzie design, in reverse – or at least thinking about it that way.
“It really helps to know where to hit the golf ball off the tee,” he said. “You have to play the golf holes from green to tee, kind of. You have to look at where the pin is to make sure you’re in the right spots. That really helped me out today.”
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