Oregon, Vijarro off to hot start

Geoff Thurner

With about a month left in the fall season, the No. 19 men’s golf team is off to a strong start after placing in the top three in each of their first three tournaments.

Still, head coach Casey Martin knows his team can play even better.

“We’ve done OK, nothing great yet,” Martin said. “We’ve played well at times but we haven’t really sustained anything. We have some work to do but I’m totally confident we’ll
get there.”

Particularly noteworthy of late has been the play of sophomore Andrew Vijarro. A native of Bend, Ore., Vijarro has finished in the top ten in the last two tournaments, placing as high as third in the MacKenzie Invitational.

“He’s just a little bulldog,” Martin said. “He’s just been solid as a rock, and he’s gotten very good. He’s very accurate, and he competes hard.”

The Ducks’ last tournament, the Del Walker Intercollegiate, took place in Long Beach, Calif. Led by Vijarro, Oregon placed third overall in the three-round, sixteen team tournament with an overall score of 1042 (eight-under par). Colorado State (1030, 20-under par) and Long Beach State (1039, 11-under par) finished first and second, respectively.

“Third out of 16 teams isn’t awful, but I thought we could have done quite a bit better,” Martin said. “We let a few shots go here and there as a team, and we got passed by some teams that I thought that we shouldn’t have.”

“We all want to win,” Vijarro said. “We’re all competitors, so I think it was a disappointing finish for the team.”

Vijarro finished tied for eighth overall in the tournament, shooting a 205 (five-under par) and breaking par in each of the three rounds. He also showed that he is a strong finisher, birdieing three of the last four holes in the tournament.
“I felt like I played pretty well,” Vijarro said. “I’m getting closer, I don’t think I’ve played my best golf.”

Behind Vijarro, sophomore Eugene Wong finished tied for 13th with a 207 (three-under par), sophomore Daniel Miernicki tied for 21st with a 209, and junior Sean Maekawa held onto a tie for 26th with a 211.

Heavy rains in Fairfax, Calif., marred the Ducks’ strongest team finish of the season. Though the final round was cancelled, Oregon still came away with a second place finish overall at the MacKenzie Invitational with a two round score of 550 (18-under par). California (545, 23-under par) was the only school to finish ahead of Oregon.

Vijarro also had his strongest performance of the season so far, finishing tied for third with a score of 135 (seven-under par).

“It was basically all about my putting,” Vijarro said. “I hit the ball very similar in almost every round, and a lot of it is just short game.”

Also placing in the top ten was junior Isaiah Telles, who shot a 137 (5-under par) and ended up tied for eighth overall. Miernicki barely missed the top ten, shooting a 138 to tie for 13th. Wong also broke par with a 141 and tied for 26th.

The Ducks’ first tournament of the season had an unlikely star. Redshirt sophomore John Paton finished 2nd in the Giustina Memorial Classic in Corvallis, Ore., with a 208 (eight-under par). The tournament was also Paton’s first as a member of the varsity team, and he proved to be a quick learner.

“He’s just done wonderfully,” Martin said. “He’s really been the pleasant surprise of the fall. I feel very fortunate that he’s matured and come along, because now I have another good player to add depth.”

Oregon finished in third overall with an 857 (seven-under par), eclipsed only by Oregon State (844, 20-under par) and Washington State (853, 11-under par).

Wong played his way to sixth place with a 212 (four-under par) and Telles tied for 18th with a 218 (2-over par). A flu-stricken Vijarro still managed to finish with a 222, tied for 24th along with Maekawa.

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