Hortt leads Monterey Bay to Golfweek D-2 title

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SUNRIVER, Ore. – For Brandon Hortt, the past few months have been about stockpiling good experiences.

Since May, the CSU-Monterey Bay junior has played in the NCAA Division II Championship, qualified for his first U.S. Golf Association Championship, played alongside the Division I college player of the year and now, has logged his second collegiate individual title.

“It’s a lot to do with confidence,” said Hortt, after closing out a five-shot individual victory over teammate Dylan Jackson at the Golfweek Division II Conference Challenge.

Hortt’s 1-over 217 (76-68-73) at Sunriver Resort’s Crosswater Course was especially impressive considering the elements. The field battled wind and rain on a 36-hole day Monday as Hortt rose to the top of the leaderboard. He leapfrogged Jackson after lunch, using an afternoon round of 68 to reach to the top spot on the leaderboard. His singular goal had been to overtake his teammate.

It’s the way it often goes on an Otter roster where Hortt and Jackson, the only player who was a member of Monterey Bay’s 2011 national championship-winning team, are team leaders.

“Having Brandon and Dylan, that’s what I expect from them,” said head coach Jason Owen. “I push them pretty hard.”

But Monterey Bay players push themselves, too. The Otters did the majority of the heavy lifting in Rounds 1 and 2, pulling away from the competition as opponents just tried to survive the elements on a brutal day in the Pacific Northwest. Their even-par 288 in the second round was 9 shots better than the next best team score. Monterey Bay finished 54 holes at 29-over 893, 20 shots better than runner-up Chico State.

Hortt and Jackson combined to go 1 over in the first two rounds, which played a big role in building the lead. The rest of the team contributed, too. Anton Rosen went 9 over in his opening nine holes, but played the next 27 in 3 over.

“In general, we had a good attitude this week,” Rosen said. “We were prepared for bad weather.”

Hortt agreed. It’s been a long summer of game strengthening for Hortt, who hails from San Diego. He closed in 1-over 73 on Tuesday, has become a more consistent ball-striker, something that was crucial in successfully tackling a soggy Crosswater course, and found a new reference point for successful putting.

Hortt traveled to Laurel Hill Golf Club in Lorton, Va., for the U.S. Public Links Amateur in July and upon making it to the match-play bracket, drew Cal’s Michael Kim in the first round. Hortt lost, 8 and 6, as Kim was the eventual runner-up that week.

“I always considered myself a good putter until I saw him putt,” Hortt said.

Monterey Bay, as a squad, would do well to take Hortt’s idea of success in baby steps. The year the Otters won the national title, they won six other titles, including the five tournaments leading up to nationals. Owen doesn’t have to worry about his players getting ahead of themselves, and the last 48 hours at Sunriver serves as a perfect example of that.

“It’s golf and we take it for what it is,” Owen said.

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