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WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. – There’s no place like home. Unfortunately for Pepperdine, the friendly confines of North Ranch Country Club were anything but friendly to the host team Monday.
The Waves, currently ranked second in the nation by Golfstat, opened their title defense at the Southwestern Invitational by shooting 20-over 308 in blustery conditions. The score, 24 shots worse than Pepperdine’s first-round total a year ago here, has the defending champs in solo ninth, 16 shots behind leader Arizona State.
Pepperdine’s best individual scores Monday were the 4-over 76s carded by Dylan Menante and Joey Vrzich, who was competing in the lineup for the first time this season. First-team All-American William Mouw didn’t make a birdie and was the throw-out scorer after an 80, his worst score in college golf by four shots.
Meanwhile, three individuals led all Pepperdine players – Joshua McCarthy (72), RJ Manke (74) and Derek Hitchner (75). Manke finished fifth in the team’s qualifier, just missing earning one of four available spots.
“You can’t get too down on today,” Pepperdine head coach Michael Beard said. “They already know they didn’t play well; usually we don’t have to do that, but yeah, frustrating. It didn’t seem like we were playing that well in the last week or so, so maybe just a little bit off in the wind today and then it turned into a little bit more off.”
Once his players finished their first rounds, Beard quickly huddled his team together for a few words. After that it was off not to the driving range but to the parking lot. After a cold and windy day, the Waves needed time to thaw.
“We know how to play the course and we know what’s up against us the next two days, we’ve just gotta figure it out,” Beard said. “They are clearly all capable. We’ll see if they wanna show up tomorrow, and I think they will. We’ll fight, for sure, just a little disappointed right now.”