Waves, Highsmith come out on top at Western Intercollegiate
14 Apr 2021
by Jim Young of

see also: View results for Western Intercollegiate, Pasatiempo Golf Club

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- Golf Channel screen shot

It was a sweep for Pepperdine at the 74th playing of the Western Intercollegiate at Pasatiempo Golf Club, as the seventh-ranked Waves walked away with their program-record fourth team title of the season while junior Joe Highsmith survived a four-hole playoff to earn his first collegiate victory.

Pepperdine’s 4-under team total of 1046 was good for an 11-stroke victory over second place Stanford, which finished at 7-over 1057. San Diego State (1070) and Washington (1074) also finished in the top-five.

The Waves overcame first round leader Washington with a strong second round showing, carding a 2-under 348 on Tuesday to take a six-stroke lead over the Huskies heading into Wednesday’s final round. Pepperdine extended its margin of victory by closing with a 6-under 344 in the play six, count five tournament.

“This was big for us,” said Pepperdine head coach Michael Beard. “We were trending in the right way so I hoped we would bring our best stuff and come out with a victory.”

While there was little drama in the team competition, Highsmith survived a four-hole playoff against Puwit Anupansuebsai of San Diego State and BYU’s Carson Lundell to claim medalist honors. After opening with rounds of 68-66, Lundell entered the final round with a four-shot lead but could only manage a 1-over 71 over his final 18, leaving the door open for Highsmith and Anupansuebsai, who both played brilliantly on Wednesday with rounds of 67 and 66, respectively.

Anupansuebsai’s final round card was highlighted by eight birdies while Highsmith took a one-shot lead on the 17th hole but after 42 straight holes without a miscue, made a bogey which dropped him back into a first-place tie. He missed a chance to win the tournament in outright when his birdie putt on the par-3 18th failed to find the bottom of the cup.

All three players twice parred the 18th, but it took a clutch, 20-foot par save by Highsmith on the second playoff hole to remain alive. Anupansuebsai was eliminated on the third playoff hole, the par-4 10th when his errant drive led to a triple bogey. After Lundell and Highsmith made pars, the two players went to the fourth playoff hole, the short, par-4 17th. Similar to regulation, Lundell avoided disaster after he pulled his tee shot only to have the ball take a fortuitous bounce before coming to rest on the cart path.

After hitting a perfect drive up the right side, Highsmith was left with just 96 yards to the pin and wedged his ball 30 feet right of the flag. Lundell’s approach from the left rough left him with a 40-foot uphill putt, which he left short and after failing to convert the six-footer for par, Highsmith calmly two-putted for par to win the coveted Blue Jacket awarded each year to the medalist of the Western Intercollegiate. The steady Highsmith used 40 pars, eight birdies and an eagle to become the second Pepperdine player to notch his team-best sixth top-10 finish of the season. He also becomes the second Pepperdine player to win the Western Intercollegiate, joining Jason Allred in 2000.

“That was absolute craziness,” said Highsmith. “Obviously the 20-footer in the playoff was crazy. It may not have looked like it out there, but I was definitely feeling the nerves but was able to handle it pretty well. It's been a while since I was in that position. This was great, it means a lot to win it here, it's really cool for me."

Pepperdine teammates Clay Feagler and Derek Hitchner, who was playing as an individual, tied for fourth place at 2-under 208, while Henry Shimp and Karl Vilips of Stanford also managed to break par for the three-day event, finishing at 1-under 209. Stanford’s Barclay Brown, who will compete for Great Britain & Ireland in next month’s Walker Cup matches at Seminole, finished in eighth place with an even par score of 210.

The Western Intercollegiate marks the Waves fourth team title of the season, a program record. Pepperdine also won three times in the fall at the Pasadera Collegiate Invitational, the East Lake Cup, and the Rustic Collegiate Classic. Pepperdine’s next action will come at the West Coast Conference Championships which gets underway on April 29 in Henderson, Nev.

Results: Western Intercollegiate
1WAJoe HighsmithLakewood, WA70072-66-67=205
T2CAPuwit AnupansuebsaiAnahiem, CA50069-70-66=205
T2UTCarson LundellAlpine, UT50068-66-71=205
T4CAClay FeaglerLaguna Niguel, CA40072-70-66=208
T4MNDerek HitchnerMinneapolis, MN40069-71-68=208

View full results for Western Intercollegiate

ABOUT THE Western Intercollegiate

54-hole men's college tournament hosted by San Jose State University. “The Western” is one of the most highly recognized national collegiate tournaments, conducted since 1946 Pasatiempo Golf Club; a historic venue where a player’s talent is always well-tested. Pasatiempo perennially ranks among the best by all of the major golf publications.

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

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