Otters build hefty lead on cold day in Sunriver
SUNRIVER, Ore. – Dylan Jackson, as the last holdover from the CSU-Monterey Bay team that won the NCAA Division II Championship in 2011, played his role without a fault Monday. The redshirt senior bundled up, aced his fourth hole on a 36-hole day at the Golfweek Division II Invitational, and turned in the only score under par on a chilly morning near the Cascades.
Jackson’s 5-under 67 at Sunriver Resort’s Crosswater Course was the lowest first-round score by six shots. Monterey Bay head coach Jason Owen immediately told redshirt junior Brandon Hortt and the chase began in the afternoon. Hortt turned in a 4-under 68 that helped the Otters double their lead from 13 at the halfway point to 26 by day’s end. Monterey Bay finished the day at 14-over 590, while Dallas Baptist was next at 40-over 616.
“Basically, my only goal was to chip away at his lead,” Hortt said.
At times, it was as if Monterey Bay was playing a different course – or at least playing under different conditions.
“You can’t really think about it that way,” Hortt said of tackling a 36-hole day in sub-60 (and at times, sub-50) temperatures. The Otters’ reward? Dinner at the Olive Garden. One can only assume the pasta servings will hit the bottom of the bowl and back at that team dinner.
Jackson’s first-round score, in cold and wind, caused tournament-wide commotion at the halfway point of the day. Most players just fought to maintain feeling in their hands. Jackson finally cooled on the back nine as temperatures dropped into the 40s, following the 67 with a 78. It allowed Hortt to take the individual lead at even-par 144.
Over the first 18, Jackson’s sole bogey came at the par-3 third. He holed out at No. 13, his fourth hole of the day, bouncing in an 8-iron at the 152-yard par 3, and counted his second ace in competition (the last came at the NCAA Championship in 2011) and the third of his career.
“This one doesn’t quite live up to the last,” Jackson said with a grin. Those memories are important for the team leader, who sat out last season after surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder.
Owen calls Jackson the type of team leader this squad needs. The Otters ended last season ranked No. 5 in Golfstat’s head-to-head rankings, and opened this season with a top-five finish in a loaded Brickyard Invitational field.
“Just his leadership as a whole and what we do on a daily basis is exactly what I need,” Owen said. “I don’t even want to start thinking about next year without him because I’ve had him for so long.”
The average score dove four shots in the afternoon, from 81.73 to 77.81, but no team could come close to Monterey Bay.
With Hortt in the lead over the second 18, the Otters turned in an even-par 288, outscoring every other team by at least 11 shots. Owen’s message, however, is that no lead is safe. His team’s advantage – which appeared insurmountable as the sun set Monday – is a reflection of their mental toughness and competitive spirit.
It’s also a reflection of their creativity around a golf course. Blustery wind and rain washed out Sunday’s practice round almost entirely. Monterey Bay played only three holes, but used Owen’s knowledge to their advantage. He was an alternate at the PGA Professional National Championship played at Sunriver earlier this summer and took notes for his team that week.
The lead isn’t something Owen and Co. will focus on over dinner. There’s another round left before the Otters can file this one away.
“My team understands one thing,” Owen said. “You go out and do your business.”
Monterey Bay proved it can perform that task regardless of the elements.