Bobcats complete season at Sun Belt Conference Tournament

By: 

Sports Reporter

This week, Texas State men’s golf competed in the Sun Belt Conference, the final tournament of the season.

“We did not get off to a good start,” Coach Howell said.

As a whole, the men finished in seventh place with a 1-over-par 285, ranking them 105th for the spring season. The weather was a factor in the tournament and in the Bobcats’ performance. The first day was postponed due to rain, and the wind affected the men’s performance during the first round.

“The wind was a little more than the practice round,” Howell said. “We played really good the last two rounds, but we unfortunately got too far behind after the first round.”

Howell believes not hitting tee shots cost the team the tournament. The Bobcats did not perform well as a team, but two players placed in the top ten.

Tyler Saunders, freshman, posted his third top-five finish and fourth top-10 of the year. He shot a 4-under-par 67 in the final round and placed fourth in the tournament.

Saunders took five birdies, including four on his front nine holes. The tournament marks the third time this season he has made a 67 or better during one of his rounds.

“Tyler Saunders had another great performance,” Howell said. “He did great all week. Now it’s time for him to get up there to get the individual title. This was an unbelievable season for him. The vote hasn’t come in. I would expect him to be Freshman of the Year in the conference.”

Saunders has a chance for a spot at the NCAA tournament as a result of his record-breaking season.

“It will be great if he does get in,” Howell said. “He’s had a great year, especially with the victory with Alabama, a highly rated field.”

Justin Newby, junior, tied for eighth, making the game his third top-10 finish this season. He completed the tournament with an even-par 71 thanks to his three birdies and three bogeys. Newby's even-par round marked the 16th round of par or better for him this season, the second most on the team next to Saunders' 17.

“Newby played really solid,” Howell said. “(He) didn’t have the outing week he needed to get close to winning, but it was a good cap to his year, and he played really great this season.”

The spring season has been a year of success for the men along with noted mistakes. The team is losing Torbjorn Johansen, junior, and Tyler Thomas, senior.

“(It was) a little bit bittersweet,” Howell said. “We made some strides forward. Unfortunately we didn’t play our best golf coming down the end of the season, but that’s a little bit a part of the process of growing as a team. We are going in the right direction.”

The Bobcats will reflect on their mistakes prior to the upcoming season, but they remain optimistic.

“We made a lot of improvements this year, but I think overall, just being able to mentally, as a team, be a little tougher at times,” Howell said. “We just have to keep doing the same things over and over.”

Follow Kierra Lewis on Twitter at @Kierra_Arnae