Oct. 18, 2011
SAN ANTONIO - With north winds gusting to 30 miles per hour, the scores climbed but Rice's Jeff Wibawa stayed consistent. The sophomore parlayed an even-par 72 on Tuesday into a one-stroke victory and his first collegiate championship as he claimed individual medalist honors at the Third Annual Lone Star Invitational at Briggs Ranch.
"Jeff played great," said Rice head coach Justin Emil. "We saw the forecast the night before and talked about it as a team. Jeff took advantage of an opportunity on a tough, tough day."
Wibawa entered Tuesday's final round in fifth place and four strokes back of the lead. He would be one of only four golfers in the 84-player field to shoot even par or better for the final round.
"Before the round, I made sure to focus on minimizing mistakes and taking advantage of opportunities," Wibawa said. "I felt like I didn't need to shoot a very good round, but just had to stay consistent and not make many mistakes."
Starting at No. 10, Wibawa's round began with eight straight holes in which he shot par. A birdie on No. 9 allowed him to make the turn at one-under. He would then sink birdie putts at both No. 2 and No. 4.
With three straight holes into the wind to finish, Wibawa's championship round did not end as he would have liked. He bogeyed No. 7 and after making par on No. 8, had his lone double bogey of the tournament on his final hole.
"There are a few trees, but there is not much to stop the wind out there," Emil said. "The down-wind holes were fairly easy but you really had to grind it out on the holes into the wind. You could tell from the scores, it was a tough day."
"I was able to minimize mistakes for the most part through the first 15 holes but 7, 8 and 9 where straight into the wind," Wibawa said. "I wasn't able to execute the shots I needed to and didn't finish as I would have liked."
Still, Wibawa would finish with a seven-under par 209 (70-67-72) to win the tournament. His 67 on Monday included an eagle at No. 7 after back-to-back birdies on Nos. 5 and 6. He closed out Sunday's round with birdies on three of his final five holes.
Baylor's Joakim Mikkelsen, ranked No. 91 nationally by Golf Stat, shot a 75 to finish one stroke back with a 210. New Mexico's John Catlin, ranked No. 32, shot a 78 on Tuesday to finish with a 212 and place third.
Prior to his tournament title, Wibawa's previous best finish was a tie for 11th at last year's Rice Intercollegiate. He was named to the 2011 Conference USA All-Freshman Team after a 13th-place finish at the league championship.
"I am really excited to finally get it done," Wibawa said of his first tournament title. "It feels really good to win and hopefully it is the first of many. It's a good start."
"I am really excited for Jeff," added Emil. "He has been working hard and really deserved to win. His hard work is definitely paying off."
New Mexico shot a 301 team score on Tuesday to finish with an 861 for the tournament and win the team championship by eight strokes over Texas A&M and North Texas who tied for second.
Rice finished 11th in the team standings. The Owls had a final-round 310 to finish with an 894 for the tournament.
The Owls close out the fall season next week when they travel to the Herb Wimberly Intercollegiate in Las Cruces, N.M.