By Mason Nesbitt, TMU Sports Information Director
The Master’s University senior Robert Penalber couldn’t remember the last time he’d penciled an eight onto his scorecard. So, after doing so on hole eight Monday at the Golden State Athletic Conference Championships in Lincoln, California, he surrendered himself to a counterintuitive emotion.
“Honestly, I just laughed it off,” Penalber said. “I was mad, obviously, but I didn’t let it carry over.”
Penalber recovered in fine fashion, shooting birdies on three of the next six holes and finishing the round tied for fifth overall with a 6-over 78.
The Mustangs, too, found their footing after a slow start. Master’s fell to the back of the seven-team tournament around the midway point before surging into a tie for second place in the afternoon.
The Mustangs, however, shot a collective 5-over on 18 to drop back into a share of fourth place, eight shots behind leader Ottawa University of Arizona.
“Obviously, we didn’t get the results we wanted today,” said Penalber, “but there is still plenty of golf to be played.”
Hicks pulled the team together after the round and encouraged the group to refocus and to remain positive. The teams will reconvene Tuesday at Catta Vedera Country Club for round two and a day later for round three.
Karsten Briley carded an 8-over 80 and provided the Mustangs’ highlight of the day in a tournament where the winner will receive an automatic berth to NAIA nationals.
On hole 14, a par 5, Briley recorded one of the tournament’s three eagles to this point.
“I just piped a drive down the center of the fairway,” Briley said, “and hit a 9-iron to 5 feet below the pin and made the putt.”
Jack Dudeck posted a 9-over 81 as the third finisher for TMU, which was positioned for a top three spot in the standings as it approached 18. But the hole’s tight tee shot and long second shot over water sunk those hopes – for now.
“It was rough out there,” Briley said. “The conditions were tough and we jut didn’t play as well as we would have hoped. We are excited to get out there again tomorrow as it’s a new opportunity to put up a low number.”