Cougs Come Up Clutch to Win the Visit Stockton Invitational
STOCKTON, Calif. – The Washington State men's golf team capped off one of its best performances ever on Saturday, Oct. 23, as the Cougars posted their lowest three-round team score in program history to win the Visit Stockton Invitational. The Cougs posted a team score of 816 (-36) to win the team championship. Meanwhile, redshirt senior Max Sekulic carded the lowest three-round score in WSU history by carding 16-under par, 197 to win the tournament's individual title.
The Cougars collect their first win since the 2017 Itani Quality Homes Collegiate, as WSU carded a program-best three-round score of 816 (-36). It is also Washington State's lowest three-round score outside of Pullman and is just one-stroke off the best three-round to par score in school history. The victory is WSU's third under head coach Dustin White and the program's first tournament win outside of Pullman since the 2014 Pacific Invitational, which was also played at the Stockton Country Club.
"I'm really happy for our guys," expressed the head coach. "They have been working at it and wanted to put themselves in a position to win a tournament. To handle themselves the way they did, and hit shots when we needed them most, shows a lot about their will to succeed. This is a great feeling and I'm really proud of our guys."
Sekulic shot an incredible 7-under par on the back nine in Saturday's third round, as he ended his day at 9-under, 62 to win the 2021 Visit Stockton Invitational's individual title. Sekulic shattered WSU's three-round score record, as the Rycroft, Alberta native shot 16-under par, 197, which is four-strokes better than the previous school record. He also becomes the first WSU golfer in program history to shoot under 200 in a three-round tournament, while the redshirt senior's third round score of 9-under, 62 ties him with Nicklaus Chiam for the lowest single-round score in program history. Sekulic finished the Visit Stockton Invitational with 16 birdies, which tied him with sophomore Preston Bebich for the second-most at the tournament. Sekulic also posted the second-lowest total on par 5 scoring, as he shot -8.
Sunday's victory marks Sekulic's first collegiate win, while he also becomes the first WSU golfer to capture an individual tournament title since Nick Mandell won the 2016 Itani Quality Homes Collegiate. The highlight of Sekulic's third round came on the back nine when he collected eagles on the par-4 10 hole and the par-5 12 hole. The redshirt senior moved up four spots on the player leaderboard in the third round, as Sekulic won the tournament by collecting back-to-back birdies on holes 16 and 17, then went even par on the 18th to win the tournament by a single stroke over St. Mary's Kristian Bressum.
"Max played great golf all week," said White. "He's wanted to win, maybe too bad at times, and he finally broke through. To shoot 29 on his final nine holes and end up shooting 62 in the final round is seriously good stuff. I'm happy he's got this under his belt and validated his hard work. He's been a guy to rally around this fall and I know his teammates are happy for him as well."
Sophomore Preston Bebich posted his first top-five collegiate finish, as the Gig Harbor, Washington native finished the 2021 Visit Stockton Invitational in fourth place. Bebich posted the third-lowest three-round individual score in school history, as he carded 11-under par, 202. The sophomore carded 4-under par, 67 in the third round to post his third-straight under-par round at the Stockton Country Club. The sophomore also tied for the second-most birdies at the tournament with 16, and tied for the third-lowest total on par-4 scoring, as he went 6-under.
Junior Pono Yanagi shot even par, 71 in the third round to end his tournament in a tie for 17th with a three-round score of 208 (-5). Yanagi opened the tournament by carding 6-under par, 65 in the first round, which is the seventh-lowest single-round in program history. Sophomore Jaden Cantafio ended his tournament in a tie for 21st on the player leaderboard after shooting 3-over par, 74 in Saturday's third round. Cantafio also shot 6-under, 65 in the second round of the Visit Stockton Invitational, matching Yanagi for the seventh-lowest single-round in program history. Freshman Franklin Lydra rounded out the tournament in a tie for 82nd after carding 14-over, 227.
Washington State caught fire in the first round of the Visit Stockton Invitational and never looked back. The Cougars posted their lowest single-round score outside of Pullman in program history in the first round, as WSU opened the tournament carding 268 (-16). The Cougs shot 10-under, 274 in the second and third rounds to win the tournament's team title. The Cougars won the tournament in thrilling fashion, as WSU was able to fight off a St. Mary's team that shot 16-under in the third round to win the tournament by a single-stroke.
Washington State concludes its 2021 fall schedule in a little over two weeks, as the Cougars head back to California to play in the Saint Mary's Invitational. The tournament will take place Nov. 8-10 at the Poppy Hills Golf Club in Monterey, California.
For more information on the Washington State men's golf team, follow @WSUCougarMGolf on Instagram and Twitter.