By Mason Nesbitt, Sports Information Director
When Master’s coach Jason Semelsberger explained that his team finished in 11th place on Tuesday in large part because of a loaded field, it wasn’t a throwaway line meant to make the Mustangs feel better or to pacify their fans. It was the truth.
“It was a national championship field,” Semelsberger said of the Battle at Primm, which featured the NAIA’s Nos. 1, 2 and 3 ranked teams and eight of the nation’s top 10.
Fourteen of the 18 teams competing at Primm Valley Golf Club in Nipton, California, were ranked in the top 25 or were receiving votes.
Master’s — which came in No. 23 in that March 9 poll — dug a bit of a hole early Monday and spent rounds two and three climbing out of it.
Sam Eisenhuth led TMU with a 4-over 214, good for a share of 33rd-place in the three-round tournament. He said the key to his success was something of an oxymoron: dealing with adversity on an easy course.
“If you’re not playing as well as you thought you should … it’s easy to become discourage to the point it hurts your game,” Eisenhuth said.
Eisenhuth didn’t let that happen.
Another highlight was the play of sophomore Karsten Briley. Briley posted his lowest score as a Mustang in round two, a 3-under 67.
“That was really exciting,” Semelsberger said, “and a huge building point for him to understand he can do that.”
The Mustangs shot a combined 289 in the third and final round on Tuesday to move up a spot in the team standings and finish three strokes behind 10th place Grand View University from Iowa.
Maybe more importantly, Master’s finished four strokes ahead of Golden State Athletic Conference rival Arizona Christian University, which figures to challenge the Mustangs in late April at the GSAC Championship in Litchfield Park, Arizona.
Master’s has claimed the last three GSAC titles and knows it will have to fend off teams like ACU and Hope International if it’s going to stay on top.
Will this be the toughest title to take yet?
“Yes,” Eisenhuth said, “absolutely.”
Eisenhuth also said he feels the Mustangs will benefit from playing more difficult courses at the GSAC Championship (The Wigwam Golf Course, April 30-May 1) and, potentially, the NAIA National Championships (TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Illinois, May 15-18).
The Mustangs are prepared, he said, because they practice on high-level courses like TPC Valencia and Valencia Country Club throughout the season.
“We’re incredibly fortunate,” he said.
Joshua Kehl shot a 218 for the Mustangs, followed by Robert Penalber (222), Josh Delo (223) and Briley (225).