Sun Devils Return Thunderbird Invitational Trophies To Their Rightful Place

April 11, 2009

Click here for a profile on Stephan Gross and his round-by-round statistics

By Thomas Lenneberg, ASU Media Relations

Playing in the Thunderbird Invitational is one of only a few chances Arizona State has to play in Tempe this season, so Stephan Gross and the No. 22 Sun Devils made sure it was a memorable one.

Arizona State battled through the rain and wind that engulfed ASU's own Karsten Golf Course for most of the tournament, winning both the team and individual championships for the first time since 2004.

'Emerging from this victorious is a momentum builder that we have grown accustomed to over the years,' said head coach Randy Lein, who has won the Thunderbird Invitational 10 times in the 17 years he has been in the desert. 'Winning is always satisfying, but winning at home makes it that much more special.'

Winning this event for the second consecutive year, the ASU Gold team beat the University of Denver and San Diego State by a commanding 18 strokes. They shot a third round 5-under par 279, placing them at 14-under par 838 for the two-day tournament (272-287-279).

Besting his third place finish earlier this season at the UH-Hilo Invitational, Gross led the way for the ASU `A' squad, shooting an even-par en route to the first individual championship of his short career. His 3-under par 210 (69-70-71) left him tied with Steve Saunders of New Mexico for the victory, while bolstering his 73.24 scoring average, already the lowest on the team.

The sophomore from Leiman, Germany, will look to follow in the footsteps of past ASU winners of the Thunderbird Invitational, all of whom have achieved great success on the golf course. Phil Mickelson, who won the event in 1991 and again in '92, owns two green jackets and three NCAA individual titles. Todd Demsey, the individual champion from `95, and Jim Carter, the top dog in '84, each won NCAA Individual Championships while at ASU. Jeff Quinney, winner of the '99 Thunderbird, prevailed at the U.S. Amateur title the following year and now currently plays on the PGA Tour with fellow ASU alum and '00 Thunderbird Invitational titleholder Paul Casey.

Knut Borsheim followed his silver medal performance of last year with another stellar showing this time around, ending the day tied for third with a 2-under par 211 (68-71-72). Teammate Scott Pinckney, who tied with Borsheim and two others for third, also played fantastically, shooting a 2-under par 211 (67-71-73) over three rounds.

Chan Kim, the fifth Sun Devil to finish in the top-20, shot a 1-over par 214 (68-75-71), while his Gold teammate Jesper Kennegard had the single best round of the tournament, carding a sizzling 6-under par 65. His outstanding final round propelled him to a 6-over par 219 (76-78-65) and a top-50 finish.

'For the team to start out strong, and then play strong through the end is extremely important,' stated coach Lein after the victory. 'Although we ended up winning by quite a few, it was definitely a team victory. All five guys contributed immensely in our victory.'

The Maroon team finished the event in sole possession of 7th after shooting a combined team total 12-over par 864 (289-289-286).

Sophomore Cameron Edens, playing in just his third tournament of the year, had his best showing of the season thus far, finishing in the top-10 at the Thunderbird for the second consecutive time. Competing for the Maroon side, Edens finished tied for 9th with an even-par 213 (71-66-76).

Braxton Marquez and Tristan Bierenbroodspot, both playing for the Maroon team, ended the day in the top-40, shooting a 4-over par 217 (74-73-70) and a 5-over par 218 (76-72-70), respectively. James Byrne finished the tournament with a 9-over par 222 (72-78-72), while the final member for the Maroon faction, Spencer Fletcher, shot a 12-over par 225 (72-79-74).

Seeing their first action of the season, playing individually, Erik Coover fired an 8-over par 221 (71-75-75), while Ryan Kelley shot a 21-over par 231 (77-79-78).

ASU WINNERS: Fourteen ASU teams have won the Thunderbird Invitational, with ASU winning the title in 1984, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2008 and 2009.

PAST ASU INDIVIDUAL WINNERS: Eight Sun Devils have won the individual titles on nine occasions, with Phil Mickelson (1991 and 1992) the only multiple winner. Other Sun Devil individual winners include Mark Sollenberger (1974), Jim Carter (1984), Larry Barber (1994), Todd Demsey (1995), Jeff Quinney (2000), Paul Casey (2001), Alejandro Canizares (2003) and Stephan Gross (2009-shared).

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