By Mason Nesbitt, TMU Sports Information Director
Rarely has second place been so enviable a position.
The Master’s University men’s golf team fired a collective 13-over in the second round of the Golden State Athletic Conference Championship on Tuesday, moving up two spots and trailing only Ottawa University of Arizona.
Ottawa holds a 19-stroke lead over the Mustangs but cannot qualify for NAIA nationals as a first year member of the association. That means that, should the Spirit maintain their lead, whoever finishes second would earn the GSAC’s automatic berth to nationals.
Third-place William Jessup is three strokes back of the Mustangs ahead of Wednesday’s third round at Catta Vedera Country Club in Lincoln, California.
A ticket to Mesa, Arizona, in late May is also bestowed upon the tournament’s individual champion. And TMU’s Robert Penalber is currently in the driver’s seat.
Tuesday, Penalber carded a 2-under 70, the tournament’s lowest score to this point, which moved him up four spots to the top of the leaderboard. He posted an eagle on the 14th hole, the second time in as many days a Mustang has gone 2-under on the par-5.
“I hit a couple wedges close for tap-in birdies,” Penalber said of what was working Tuesday. “Overall my approach shots were really solid into the green.”
Monday, Penalber recovered admirably from posting an eight midway through his round to fire birdies on three of his next six holes, finishing at 6-over. Tuesday, he showed similar fortitude.
After shooting four bogies on his first nine holes, he recorded four birdies in his final nine. The senior said he didn’t change anything when he made the turn.
“I try to stay pretty levelheaded throughout the round,” Penalber said. “I just like to remind myself of my abilities.”
Karsten Briley maintained his spot as TMU’s second finisher. He was one of three Mustangs (along with Jack Dudeck and Josh Kehl) to shoot 77s on Tuesday, and he’s in 12th place overall for the tournament.
Briley said he feels good about the Mustangs’ position heading into the final day of competition. “We’re excited to go out and compete tomorrow,” he said.
Dudeck is one shot back of Briley for the tournament and in a tie for 13th place.
As for the championship’s individual leader, the tournament has boiled down to mental toughness.
“Bob has been steady,” said TMU coach Jacob Hicks. “He’s taking advantage of his length off the tee and mental fortitude. This course has some fangs to it, but Bob has been tough.”