Western Intercollegiate Field With 9 Winners In 2008-09

     Michigan State University’s Jack Newman seeks to become the first golfer in more than 40 years to successfully defend his individual title at the Western Intercollegiate men’s college golf tournament when the 63rd annual event begins Sunday, March 29.

    The 54-hole tournament hosted by San Jose State University takes place at the picturesque Pasatiempo Golf Course in Santa Cruz, California. Players will play 18 holes each day starting at 9:00 a.m. (PDT) through Tuesday, March 31, on the par 70, 6,511-yard Alister MacKenzie designed course.

    Ninety-three players led by Newman, the 2008 U.S. Publinx champion, are competing for the individual championship of the longest-running men’s college golf tournament west of the Mississippi River and 18 teams have the team title in their sights.

    The junior from Des Moines, Iowa, hopes to join Arne Dokka, who played for California State College, Los Angeles, as a two-time Western Intercollegiate medalist and U.S. Publinx champion. Dokka, the last player to capture back-to-back Westerns, won the 1965 U.S. Publinx championship sandwiched in between the 1965 and 1966 Western Intercollegiates.

    Only three players have won the Western Intercollegiate in successive years Dokka (1965 & 1966), San Jose State’s John Lotz (1961-63) and Al Nelson of Saint Mary’s College (1948 & 1949). Former San Jose State and CBS TV golf commentator Ken Venturi (1951 & 1953) and Stanford’s Joel Kribel (1997  & 1999) are two-time Western Intercollegiate winners in their sophomore and senior seasons.

    In 2008-09, Newman shared medalist honors at the 2008 Spartan Classic in Kingsley, Mich., with teammate Graham Baillargeon. They are among eight possible players who have first-place finishes this season. Daniel Wax of Denver University, one of the 18 teams in the Western Intercollegiate, is the highest ranked golfer nationally at #33 according to GolfStat. Wax won the Wyoming Intercollegiate in Palm Desert, Calif., last October.

    Other players who have tournament wins this season from teams in the field are Michigan State’s Payne Gniewek, Derek Tolan of Colorado, Michael Jensen of California, Pat Grady of Colorado and Diego Velasquez of Oregon State. Tolan has two first-place finishes in 2008-09 sharing top honors at the USF Invitational in San Francisco and standing alone on the victory podium at the Tucker Invitational in Albquerque.

    San Jose State's top two golfers, Mark Hubbard and Jay Myers, have seven top-10 finishes between them. Heading into the Western Intercollegiate, Hubbard has a 72.43 stroke average; Myers, 72.61.

    Play begins each morning at 9:00 a.m. in a shotgun start format. There is no charge to watch in person and parking is available at one of the three Pasatiempo Golf Course parking lots. Live scoring is available at golfstat.com.