By Mason Nesbitt, TMU Sports Information Director
The Master’s University men’s golf team employed dual focuses this week during its season-opener in Oklahoma City.
“Stay aggressive and stay patient,” said first-year coach Jacob Hicks. “Those were our two main goals this week: keep your foot on the gas and stay patient because good things were ahead and this course was going to yield a lot of birdies, a lot of opportunities to capitalize on birdies.”
Robert Penalber capitalized more than most. The Mustang senior tallied five birdies during a bogey-free round Wednesday, carding a 5-under 66 at Lincoln Park Golf Course. It was tied for the lowest score of the day, and it was Penalber’s career-low round.
It was also a more accurate representation of a player who is expected to be among the Mustangs’ best.
Penalber shot rounds of 71 and 80 on Tuesday. But he didn’t panic.
“I just knew that wasn’t my game,” he said. “There were more opportunities, especially on that golf course, to put that behind me. I was looking forward to today.”
So too was a team that sat in a tie for ninth place after two rounds. The Mustangs were hoping to dip under par in the third go-round but settled for a collective 4-over 288. They finished in a tie for eighth place in a field highlighted by reigning national champion and current No. 1 Oklahoma City University, which ended the day at 28-under, winning its home tournament by 22 strokes.
Master’s received votes in the NAIA preseason coaches’ poll after graduating key pieces in seniors Joshua Delo and Sam Eisenhuth. But the Mustangs’ most-recent recruiting class has shown it can complement talented returners like Penalber and Joshua Kehl, who finished at 7-over for the tournament, tied for TMU’s second-best mark.
Freshman Jack Dudeck shot a competitive career-low 69 in Tuesday’s first round. He finished at 7-over for the tournament. And freshman Eric Martin was the Mustangs’ third-lowest scorer through two rounds and finished in the team’s fourth spot.
Penalber was the Mustangs’ best individual finisher, earning a tie for 21st place.
“The guys are pretty optimistic right now,” Hicks said. “But we know we have a lot of work to do to get where we want to be. It’s time to grind and get ready for Ventura.”
At Olivas Links Golf Course in Ventura on Sept. 17 and 18, Penalber will try and pick up where he left off.
He began Wednesday on hole 13 and played his best golf on his final nine holes, where he hit birdies on Nos. 1, 4, 5, 7 and 11. He said his focus was to position himself for as many “looks at birdie” as possible.
On this day, he earned the looks and made the shots.