El Paso, TX — UTEP junior Martin Simonsen posted his first career individual championship, firing a 12-under-par 204 to preside over the 88-player field at the Price’s Give ‘Em Five Collegiate Golf Invitational on Saturday at Butterfield Trail Golf Club.
Simonsen shot rounds of 71, 65 and 68 to win the title by three strokes over Northern Colorado’s Steven Kupcho (71-66-70-207), San Jose State’s Cody Blick (69-67-71-207) and Colorado’s Yannik Paul (66-72-69), who tied for second place.
“It’s really exciting to finally get a win,” Simonsen said. “I’ve come close a few times. Today I did a good job of playing well and not making too many mistakes. I only missed three greens the whole tournament. My long game was pretty sharp and the putting was definitely better than it’s been in the first few tournaments. It was a solid week overall and a nice way to finish off the fall season.”
“It’s great for Martin and great for our program to have an individual medalist,” UTEP coach Scott Lieberwirth said. “He played great. The first one is the hardest one to win. Even though he played beautifully this time, he had a few shaky spots coming in. But he kept his emotions together very well, and I think it’s going to enable him to relax and hopefully start winning a few more as time goes on.”
UTEP capped its fall season by finishing fifth out of 15 teams. NM State was the champion (278-273-285-836), followed by Colorado (275-284-288-847), San Jose State (280-281-292-853), Kansas (283-282-289-854), UTEP (288-289-282-859), Nebraska (286-284-295-865), Air Force (276-289-302-867), Idaho (290-289-289-868), Northern Colorado (287-291-294-872), UC Riverside (289-298-289-876), Western New Mexico (289-291-297-877), Grand Canyon (295-289-304-888), Boise State (296-301-292-889), Seattle (292-287-314-893) and Utah (304-300-296-900).
Leading first-place NMSU’s charge was Kenneth Fadke (fifth place, 70-69-69-208), Pat Beyhan (tied for sixth place, 69-67-73-209), Brett Walker (tied for sixth place, 70-67-72-209) and Travis Benson (tied for 13th place, 69-70-74-213).
UTEP’s Jacob Loya tied for 19th place (72-74-70-216), Jere Pelletier tied for 22nd place (71-75-71-217), Roberto Ruiz tied for 47th place (74-75-74-223) and Frederik Dreier tied for 64th place (78-76-73-227). Competing as individuals, the Miners’ Prescott Mann tied for 13th place (75-67-71-213), Jose Manuel Romero tied for 55th place (77-73-74-224), Chris Juarez tied for 79th place (78-77-77-232), Ian Patterson finished 81st (71-87-75-233) and Ryan Fioretti tied for 83rd place (81-74-81-236).
“Martin kept us in the top five,” Lieberwirth said. “Some of the guys just didn’t play as well as they usually do. We tend to play pretty well when we’re out here [at Butterfield] practicing.
“We only play one tournament at home, as do most universities. When expectations are at their highest, sometimes those expectations don’t translate into great performances. We psych ourselves out at times or try to do too much rather than playing loose like we do every day. We tend to see this group play better when they’re relaxed and enjoying themselves and not concerned with making a mistake or doing something that’s forcing the issue.”
Still, it was a solid fall season for the Miners, who picked up four top-five finishes in five competitions including a pair of runner-up showings.
“I think we did make some progress in the fall,” Lieberwirth said. “All in all things are headed in the right direction. I’m pleased that the guys aren’t just satisfied with finishing in fifth place. They want to win a golf tournament and get UTEP back to being more of a nationally competitive team. From that standpoint it’s very good.”
The Miners will open their spring schedule at the Arizona Intercollegiate Jan. 27-28 in Tucson.
“Our schedule is going to be much tougher in the spring,” Lieberwirth said. “The quality of tournaments will be very strong and we need the guys to be prepared to play against some of the best teams in the country. We got off to a good start with the fall season, but there’s a lot of work to be done.”