Chico State Men’s Golf end fall season in high spirits


Pictured from left to right, are sophomores Mark Noonan, Travis Miller, freshman Naoki Easterday, sophomore Dakota Ochoa and junior Tyler Ashman holding the Hawaii Pacific Shark Shootout championship trophy. Photo Credit: Chico State Sports Information

After struggling in the Otter Invitational hosted by Monterey Bay, the Wildcats flew to Hawaii and notched a tournament win, and a top-three finish in the last two tournaments in the fall portion of their schedule.  

Chico State was victorious in the Southwest Airlines Hawaii Pacific University Shark Shootout, going 18 under-par alongside the Stanislaus State Warriors. It ultimately came down to the drop-score tiebreaker, where the Wildcats had the advantage over the Warriors as sophomore Travis Miller went 6 over-par compared to Warriors freshman Jarred Hernandez going 8 over-par. 

In the Shark Shootout, junior Tyler Ashman also achieved an impressive milestone for himself, his first collegiate tournament win. 

“It was awesome, that had been one of my goals for a while now,” Ashman said. “I had been putting myself in position earlier in the fall, but kept falling short … so it felt great being able to get it done.”

It also was a successful ending for sophomore Dakota Ochoa, as he finished 8 under-par in the same tournament and finished tied for third place in the individual standings. In the back-nine at the Leilehua Golf Course, Ochoa had one eagle and three birdies which gave him a score of 5 under-par in the last round.

“The second round I was hitting a lot of good shots in the first eight holes but I just wasn’t getting rewarded with my putter,” Ochoa said. “So I told myself to keep doing that and just to hit it closer and some putts started to fall on the back nine for me.”

Ashman and Ochoa combined for a score of 18 under-par, which played a major factor in the team’s success at the Shark Shootout. 

The errors were limited by the consistent play from sophomore Mark Noonan and freshman Naoki Easterday. Noonan finished 2 under-par and Easterday minimized his errors by going 1 over-par.

“I thought I played okay, very steady, I just couldn’t get any putts to drop which was a little frustrating,” Noonan said. “Then again, when you have a couple of guys like Dakota and Tyler on your team you know that if you can play steady golf you’ll have a chance to win … that’s the great thing about this team compared to the past few years is the depth we have.”

With their win at the Shark Shootout, Chico State continued their Hawaiian road trip with the Dennis Rose Invitational hosted by Hawai’i at Hilo. On Oct. 28, the Wildcats took the Waikoloa Beach Course and finished in third place shooting 11 over-par in what was a tough course for all 16 schools that competed. 

In the tournament, no team went under par, and only eight individuals went under par in the two-day competition. 

“The greens had a lot more grain and the wind picked up a lot, and off the fairway was lava rock and ocean so it wasn’t your typical out-of-bounds which was pretty cool,” Ochoa said. “I would say that my ball striking was very strong and my driver was consistent all week, my putter was solid for every round except the last, I just couldn’t get anything to go in.”

Ochoa finished the fall portion of the season off strong, with him being one of the eight individuals finishing under par, with a score of 1 under. The impressive score helped him secure a top-five finish during the tournament.

As for the other five Wildcats, they all finished over par but Noonan finished his consistent season off with a top 10 finish with a score of 1 over-par. This leaves Noonan on a high note as the next tournament will be played in February.

“I’ve improved a lot with my ball striking over the past few months which was nice to see, I’m looking forward to building off of that and continuing to improve on that this off-season,” Noonan said. “I felt my putting wasn’t as good as it usually is, it’s usually the strongest point of my game but it struggled a little bit this fall so I have some stuff to work on there.”

With two tournament wins in the five tournaments played by the Wildcats during the fall portion of their golf season, they are ending the season on a high note. They will take a three-and-a-half month offseason break until the San Marcos Fujikura Invite, hosted by the San Marcos Coyotes at the Shadowridge Golf Club in Vista, California.

“I’m really looking forward to building off of our solid fall season and continuing to play well and smart in the spring,” Ashman said. “Goals for playoffs are one thing, but specifically I think we all are working toward winning the conference this year. Especially after coming up just short last year.” 

The Wildcats will take the offseason to prepare for the five regular season tournaments during the spring portion of the season, with their goals set on the California Collegiate Athletic Association title played at the Victoria Club in Riverside, California. 

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.