By Mason Nesbitt, TMU Sports Information Director
This week’s golf meet featured a career-best finish, a preview of what should be a hyper-competitive conference tournament and a new team motto.
“We were just trying to whack it, attack it and swing it like a racket,” said Master’s senior Robert Penalber (pictured above).
Penalber was teasing, of course, citing a line from a prominent late-night TV show. But he did drive the ball with authority Monday at The Golf Club at Terra Lago in Indio, California, positioning himself for his best-ever finish.
Penalber came in tied for fourth overall at 1-over in Corban University’s Desert Collegiate – eight shots back of medalist Mayson Tibbs of Oregon Tech.
Penalber said his game plan was to be strategic off the tee and to be aggressive with his 8 and 9 irons and wedges. His 1-under 71 in round two Monday vaulted him up seven spots from 11th to fourth.
“He stayed patient,” said TMU head coach Jacob Hicks. “And he took advantage of his long driving distance.”
Josh Kehl (t-32nd, 11-over) was next to finish for Master’s, which ended up in a three-way tie for sixth as a team. Maybe more important than where it finished was who it finished alongside.
The Mustangs deadlocked with Golden State Athletic Conference foes William Jessup and Menlo. And with the conference tournament in Rocklin, California, three weeks away, it appears the race for an NAIA nationals berth will be especially tight.
“Conference is anyone’s game,” Hicks said. “It’s up for grabs. A lot of parity. It’s going to come down to the team that is willing to be the most prepared and ready to win. Glad we have three weeks to get to work.”
In that time, the Mustangs will focus on their short game and mental prep. Karsten Briley, TMU’s third finisher at 12-over (t-38th), said the team needs to do a better job of keeping the ball in play off the tee.
“It will allow us to be more aggressive going into the green,” he said.
The Mustangs shot a collective 304 in the first round Sunday, good for seventh place. Then they shot a 307 on Monday, catching William Jessup, which had been two strokes ahead.
“We know that we can compete with anyone in our conference,” Briley said. “… Each tournament, one or two guys have played well. We just need to get a few of us playing well at the same time. As a team, we are very close to playing some great golf.”