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Utah Golf: Looking Back at Record-Setting Fall Tournaments

Nov 2, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY- The Utah men's golf team opened its 2021-2022 fall schedule at the Maui Jim Invitational. The team finished the tournament in ninth; not the start they were shooting for in its opening tournament.

"I think everybody was shocked at how poorly we played in the Maui Jim," said head coach Garett Clegg. "We know we're a good team and we have a lot of good players so to open the season like that woke us up."

The slow start would not only inspire the team to play well in its next tournament at the Mark Simpson Colligate, but they would never finish outside of the top four in any of its final four tournaments.

At the Mark Simpson, three Utes finished inside the top 25 as the team shot 36-under (828), the third-lowest 54-hole team score in program history. Utah would secure second, the team's highest finish of the season.

"We were able to really rebound and play great," said Clegg, "Our guys made a ton of birdies, and it was a big confidence boost for us to play well."

One of the catalysts for the team's second tournament spark was freshman Martín León. León made his collegiate debut at the Mark Simpson, and left quite the impression, tying for 12th-place after shooting 9-under (207). León also set a course record for the lowest 18-hole individual score when he shot 9 under (63) in the first round of the event. This also tied him for the second-lowest 18-hole individual score on record at Utah.

León redshirted last season and that time he spent learning and growing as a golfer allowed him to be a huge contributor to the team in the first half of their 2021-2022 season. In four fall tournaments, León finished in the top 25 three times and averaged shooting 70.5 per round.

"Martin was a huge difference-maker for us this fall," said Clegg. "He's grown a ton in maturity and consistency so when he gets out there it's allowed him to stay within himself even when he's not playing great."

Next up Utah headed to South Bend, Ind., to compete in the Notre Dame Collegiate. The team would tie for third after shooting 10-under (830) giving them another top three 54-hole team score in program history. This time around the team was led by sophomore Javier Barcos, who finished in second place after shooting 11-under (119), which gave him the lowest 54-hole individual score on record at Utah.

"Javi is insanely talented," said Clegg. "He's an elite ball-striker who has incredible hands around the greens. It's starting to all come together for him and once it does, he's going to be a star and win a lot of tournaments."

Barcos recorded two top-three and top 25 finishes as the team's top performer for the fall portion of the season.

Utah would continue its strong play at the Oregon State Invitational with all five Utes finishing inside the top 25. The stellar individual performances allowed the team to finish in third place at the event after shooting 3-over as a team. Because of its success in this tournament and previous tournaments, the Utes were ranked the 40th best team in the country.

Barcos and León taking to their games to the next level paired with the veteran presence of seniors Tristan Mandur and Blake Tomlinson helped propel the Utes to their most top-three tournament finishes since the 2016-2017 season.

"This year we have more players that can win tournaments than we've normally had," said Coach Clegg. "Last year we had mostly the same group guys but this year they've really stepped up and it's given us more players that could win any given week."

In its final fall tournament, the Utes competed in the Visit Stockton Invitational where they would claim fourth place after shooting 22-under (830). The team also topped BYU for the first time since 2004 at the Invitational. Coach Clegg wanted to see his team play better in their final fall outing but overall was excited about the progress his team made.

"Every week we had somebody in contention to win a tournament which is good but for the spring we need to be more consistent as a team," said Clegg. "If we can have three great performances at each tournament that will allow us to take the next step and win tournaments."

The Utah golf team won't tee it up again until they travel to Hawaii to compete in the John A. Burns Invitational Feb. 18th-20th and Coach Clegg feels that day can't come soon enough.

"I wish we had another tournament this fall," said Clegg. "On one hand having a break is nice but on the other hand, I'm excited because at every tournament I expect us to be competing on the last nine holes to win and I know our players expect us to as well. This group is fantastic, and they carry themselves well. It's always fun to compete but now we have that expectation to win."