By Mason Nesbitt, Sports Information Director
Robert Penalber is fairly confident that before long very little of what transpired on the course this week, or over the last four years for that matter, will be remembered.
“Sooner or later, everyone will forget what you did, what you shot or something like that,” The Master’s University senior said Wednesday after missing the 36-hole cut at the NAIA Men’s Golf National Championship in Mesa, Arizona. “I’ve made some of my closest friends in college because of golf and those relationships will last a lifetime.”
For the second time in as many days, Penalber found his game too late. He made par or birdie on six of his last seven holes in Wednesday’s second round at Las Sendas Golf Club, but the mountain was too steep to climb.
Penalber finished at 9-over Wednesday and 20-over after two rounds, a mark that meant the end of a memorable four-year career.
Penalber was a two-time NAIA nationals participant and a member of TMU’s 2016 and 2017 Golden State Athletic Conference championship teams.
“There is so much more to it than just playing golf,” he said. “It’s about becoming who you are going to be. The game helped me realize that. After nine hard years of playing it, it’s difficult to hang up my spikes, but it’s in God’s timing and I’m excited to see what He has in store for me.”
Penalber shot a 7-over through the first nine holes Wednesday, recovering to card birdies on holes 12 and 18. He made par on 13, 14, 16 and 17.
The turnaround embodied the strong-minded golf Penalber has played all season.
In the Mustangs’ opener in the fall, Penalber shot disappointing scores of 71 and 80 in the first two rounds of the U.C. Ferguson Classic in Oklahoma City.
“I just knew that wasn’t my game,” he said at the time. “There were more opportunities, especially on that golf course, to put that behind me.”
In the final round, Penalber shot a career-low 66.
As recently as the GSAC Championships in April, Penalber overcame a handful of what could have been devastatingly poor holes on his way to claiming the conference’s individual automatic berth to nationals.
“Rob is just a grinder,” TMU coach Jacob Hicks said. “He never gives up. He just battles out there.”
Penalber showed that spirit Tuesday evening as he made par on five of his last six holes to reach 12-over through 16. His round was suspended due to darkness, but he returned at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday and fired off a par and a birdie to get to 11-over.
By the time Penalber teed off for his second round around 8:30 a.m., he had climbed into a share of 94th place. It was not unreasonable that he could make the cut, which figured to be somewhere around 8-over.
But Penalber double bogeyed his first hole and bogeyed five of the next eight to drop out of contention, maintaining his staple brand of level-headed perspective in the process.
“Besides my performance at nationals, I was really happy with the entire season as a whole,” he said. “This season has been the best in my college career and I’m happy that it came in my last season.”