By Pavan Sagoo | Athlete Columnist

Pavan Sagoo works on his third top-10 finish of 2018 in Arizona. (Courtesy of SMC Gaels)

March is usually when things start to heat up—no, not because of March Madness—but because the month of March usually signals the beginning of what our team would consider to be the most important golfing stretch of the year.

This year is no different. In fact, this upcoming stretch is possibly one of the busiest we have ever encountered, as all four of our remaining regular season events take place before the month ends. The first of which was the Desert Mountain Intercollegiate, hosted by the University of Michigan, in which we placed in the Top-Five last weekend.

Desert Mountain’s Outlaw course is no stranger to us. Fellow seniors Perry Cohen and Connor Blick, and myself, have now played this event each of the four years that it has been up and running. There really isn’t too much that we don’t know about the course, and this provided us with a reason to come into the tournament with a fair amount of optimism. It’s always nice returning to a course that you know thoroughly and have played well at in the past, as well as having the oppurtunity to share the knowledge that we have gained over the past four years with the younger guys on the team, who got to see the Outlaw in all its glory for the very first time.

Saturday was really a day of mixed emotions for the team. We got off to a strong start, which to be honest was quite expected. We know what each of us is capable of producing as individuals, and to have seen the team making birdies was no surprise. I believe we were around second or third throughout the majority of the 36 holes, sitting firmly within striking distance of Kansas, until we seemed to let it slip toward the end of the day. As darkness loomed, some of the guys, myself included, made some very poor mental errors in an attempt to play quicker than we usually would. To be honest, so did many other teams.

We often refer to Saturday at the Outlaw as one of the most challenging days in college golf—a brutal walk, in brutal winds, in the blistering Phoenix heat. That can really take it’s toll on a player. Not to mention that we are playing from sun-rise, until quite literally, sun-set! Tough conditions coupled with the issue of trying to beat darkness is something that, quite frankly, we dealt with poorly, and we must do better next time around. However, with that being said, we still weren’t out of the tournament.

Sunday morning was another early start, and we were all excited for the opportunity ahead. Excited for a chance to play well when we needed to. Excited to make a push up the leaderboard. That didn’t quite happen.

Golf is very much a game of momentum, and that showed throughout our final 18 holes. We got off to a slow start out of the gates, and as a team, were never able to gather the momentum necessary to do what we had in mind. We knew whilst warming up that Sunday would be difficult, seeing as the temperature had dropped significantly, and the wind was beginning to gust earlier than usual. This made it tough for us to be decisive. On a course as demanding as the Outlaw, it’s challenging to know when to play aggressive, and when to play the percentages, especially when conditions are tough. I believe that we most certainly found ourselves in that predicament, which ultimately held us back.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. I find that perspective is always important, especially in a sport as fickle as golf. Although this perhaps wasn’t the result we wanted, coming into the week ranked the highest we have been in some time at 34, we are still in a great spot heading into the final three events of our regular season. We also had a couple of solid individual performances; Perry finished in a tie for fourth, collecting his second Top-Five in his last two events, and I managed to finish in solo tenth. We can take many positives from this week, as well as a ton of learning experiences.

Providing we reflect and take the time to work diligently on our weaknesses throughout the next week of practice, there is no reason why we won’t be heading into our next event high in confidence.

The Lamkin Grips San Diego Classic, in Chula Vista, boasts one of the toughest fields that we face all year. This is yet another wonderful opportunity for us, and a tournament that we are most certainly excited to get underway on Monday, March 12.

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