Chico State Men’s Golf fault in Otter Invitational: Aim to finish the season strong in Hawaii


Alejandro Mejia Mejia

At the tee box, freshman Ben Mouser uses one of his irons to hit his ball down the fairway in the first round of the Wildcat Classic on Oct. 11. Mouser, finished the tournament tied for 26th place and went 2 over-par at the Peach Tree Golf and Country Club in Marysville. Photo Credit: Alejandro Mejia Mejia

After coming off a team win at the Wildcat Classic, the Chico State Men’s Golf team took a step backward at the Otter Invitational hosted by the Monterey Bay Otters on Oct. 17-18.

The Wildcats finished in 15th place out of the 18 teams that competed at the Bayonet Black and Horse Golf Courses in Seaside, California earlier this week. This was a notable downgrade compared to their last tournament, when they finished in first place at the Peach Tree Golf and Country Club on Oct. 10-11. 

In the first round, four of the six players from Chico State shot a 295, putting the team in the top 10 after the first 18 holes.

During the second round, the Wildcats faulted as the team finished with a score of 303 between four players’ scores, averaging 75.75 strokes per player during the round.

The second day of the tournament momentum was not in favor for the Wildcats, with the team playing like a shadow of its former self. All players went over-par and finished in the bottom third of the standings.

Sophomore Dakota Ochoa finished 10 over-par and tied for 50th place alongside teammate Mark Noonan.

“I would say the tournament didn’t go as planned,” Ochoa said. “We all know we are so much better than how we played and we have to put it in the rearview mirror.”

The Wildcats weren’t the only program to struggle during the Otter Invitational, over 85% of all players competing in the tournament went over-par during the two-day tournament.

Bayonet and Black Horse is considered to be one of the toughest golf courses to play at across the nation according to multiple websites; most notably, GolfDigest.

“That course is one of the more difficult ones in the state of California,” Ochoa said. “The fairways are super tight with overhanging trees, the greens are very grainy and hard as a rock … this makes approach shots even harder to control coming into the greens.”

Individually, junior Tyler Ashman finished the first round of play with a score of 2 under-par, and in the last eight holes of the second round, he had three bogeys and one double-bogey to finish at 4 over-par after the first day of play.

“The first round was what I was hoping for leading into the week, the next two were below average,” Ashman said. “Too many mistakes and unforced errors, it’s a week we’d like to forget and flush down the drain. But, it is also a good learning experience to make sure we correct the mistakes going forward.”

Sophomore Travis Miller finished with the lowest scoring total for the Wildcats. Alas, his scores did not go toward the team’s play as he played for his own individual score.

“Coach [Nick Green] wanted to keep the same lineup that came off the recent win following our home tournament,” Miller said. “I wanted to be in the lineup but I understood his decision.”

Miller finished 1 over-par and tied for 13th place alongside freshman Easton Hether from the East Bay Pioneers.

“I would rate my play well. I was proud to see myself play confidently at such a difficult course,” Miller said. “I wish I could have finished on a stronger note but it’ll be nice moving into Hawaii with this momentum.”

Miller acknowledged the impact his aggressive play had toward his success at the Otter Invitational. 

“Something that [helped me] pick up my momentum came halfway through my first round on hole two , I know it was a difficult hole and especially tee shot,” Miller said. “I was debating following my game plan of hitting a more conservative shot or a hard driver down the narrow fairway … I decided to trust the more aggressive play with my driver.” 

The Wildcats are now readying themselves for takeoff, as they will fly out to Hawaii for their last two tournaments in the fall portion of the season.

On Wednesday Oct. 25, they will compete in the Southwest Airlines Hawaii Pacific University Shootout hosted by Hawaii Pacific University at the Leilehua Golf Course in Wahiawa, Hawaii.

“I have never played there before. In fact, I’ve never been to Hawaii before,” Ashman said. “So you can say that I am pretty excited to be going, although we are going for golf and it is very important that we have a solid week it is also important that we enjoy it and have some fun.”

The team will then compete in the Dennis Rose Invitational on Oct. 28 through the 29th for their last tournament of the fall portion of the season, held by the Hawai’i Hilo Vulcans at the Hapuna Golf Course located in Kohala Coast, Hawaii. 

The starting-five for the Wildcats will include Ashman, freshman Naoki Easterday, Miller, Noonan and Ochoa.

For more information about all Chico State Athletics, visit the Wildcats website.

Alejandro Mejia Mejia can be reached at [email protected] or @MeijaMeijaAlex on Twitter.