When Christian Newton took over the CSU men’s golf team in August, he hoped to improve the fifth-placed finished it saw last season.
Newton came close, however the Rams repeated themselves from 2012, ending the year at No. 5 in the Mountain West Conference Championships this weekend in Tucson, Ariz.
However, he is looking at the position as a long-term investment, the same stance he took back in the fall when fulfilling the open spot.
“If we rewind back to then, honestly I’d feel disappointed. I felt like we could play with any … team in the conference,” Newton said. “I would quite honestly be disappointed if we finished fifth again next year.”
The Rams ended the invitational one swing behind Air Force at 24 strokes above par at Tucson’s OMNI National golf course.
CSU played in a three-day open, posting an impressive score through Friday and Saturday, finishing at 579, good for the third-best score in the championship.
“(Saturday) we played well and we even had a chance to hit third place, but then things just stopped being in our way and that’s the way it went,” sophomore Cameron Harrell said.
Sunday’s windy weather in the desert affected the play on the golf course.
“The scores weren’t too good for anybody, like the whole field. We hung in there until we had a bunch of three putts today. That didn’t help anybody,” Harrell said.
The Rams lost their groove they found in the first two rounds, falling apart on Sunday, causing them to fall to the fifth spot out of nine to end the weekend.
New Mexico, the favorites entering the tournament, won by shooting eight strokes under par for the tournament, outpacing second-place San Diego State by eight strokes.
The Lobos were nationally ranked at No. 6 on Friday when the invitational kicked off.
“We didn’t realize it until our last player had hit about the 17th or 18th tee, but we didn’t want to think we had it until things were certain,” New Mexico coach Glen Millican said. “We would have had to made a lot of mistakes with little time left to change that.”
The Lobos finished with an eight-stroke lead over the second-place tie between San Diego State and UNLV.
“In this conference there are lots of elite teams, it feels like an honor,” Millican said. “If you would have take me back to a year ago and told me about today then I wouldn’t have believed it, but I certainly would have wanted to.”
CSU awaits votes for a bid to the national tournament, although the chances seem unlikely for the Rams.
“At this point, we’re counting our losses because it doesn’t look too good, however we’re already looking forward to next year,” Newton said. “Next year will be much different.”
Club Sports Beat Reporter Quentin Sickafoose can be reached at email@example.com.