By Lindsey Boyd:
The San José State men’s golf team will try to keep their feet out of the sand while they take part in the 26th annual Amer Ari Invitational in Waikoloa, Hawai’i for the next three days.
The event marks the team’s spring season opener and first competitive rounds of 2017.
The team will be playing on King’s Course, which is no new turf for the Spartans who are returning to play in the prestigious tournament for their 7th time. SJSU will tee up on Thursday, Feb. 2 against some of the top collegiate players in the country.
The Spartans lineup includes Kevin Velo, the team’s most valuable player 2015-2016. Scott Munger, the second best stroke average holder on the 2015-2016 team, and Matthew Murray, the only player to compete in all 10 tournaments 2015-2016, will also attend.
Sean Talmadge and William Barnett will make their debuts in the tournament for the team.
In total, 21 teams will play over the course for the next few days. The most fierce competition will come from top-ranking schools — #4 Oklahoma State, #6 Stanford, #7 USC, #10 Texas, #12 Auburn, #19 Texas Tech, #20 Oregon, and #25 Georgia Tech.
The par 72, 7,074-yard King’s Course has been a royal pain for the Spartans in the past. Last time the Spartans were on the course in 2016 they had a rough finish, placing 13th out of 19 teams.
The player to watch this season is Kevin Velo. Velo was the driving force of the team last year as a freshman. Now a sophomore, he’s ranked fourth on the team with a stroke average of 73.33 over 9 rounds entering the winter offseason break.
SJSU is also awaiting for the first-ever Spartan Golf Complex to be completed. Once constructed, both the men’s and women’s team will have a driving range, chipping greens, bunkers, and putting greens to sharpen their skills on.
The Spartans will look to get the back half of their season off to a good start after putting the “L” in golf during a shaky Fall season.