During this school year, the Grand Canyon University club golf team tied for first place after regulation play of two regional tournaments and blew out the field in the final regional.
It already is time to test the young program at a higher ground. Ranked fourth nationally, the Lopes will vie for a national championship on the April 29-30 weekend at the National Collegiate Club Golf Association National Championship in Hot Springs, Ark.
GCU’s eight-player team will be among 32 college club teams that qualified for the two-round event on two Hot Springs Golf and Country Club courses. In each round, the top five Lopes round scores will count toward the team tally.
GCU’s traveling team includes senior Zach Capel, senior Joe Knight, senior Jordan Yamamoto, junior Joey Russo, junior Tristan Koyl, sophomore Cole Anderson, sophomore Will McMahon and freshman Grant Sandberg.
Capel ranks 35th individually entering the tournament, which awards a red jacket to the individual medalist, while Yamamoto is tabbed at 39th. As a team, the Lopes only trail No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Florida and No. 3 Oklahoma State in the NCCGA national rankings.
“Our season, up until Sedona (the final regional), had been very frustrating,” GCU club golf coach John Wasson said. “We were playing well but kept tying with ASU (Arizona State) and they were winning the tiebreakers. The fall tiebreaker sent them to (fall) nationals. I decided something needed to change and that change was a practice round before our regional in Sedona. The result speaks for itself, dominating in Sedona and receiving our first nationals bid. We have the talent to make a splash at nationals so we can’t wait to get there.”
GCU earned the automatic bid to the national tournament by winning the spring’s second Desert Region tournament earlier this month. The Lopes beat Golf Academy of Chandler by 22 strokes and ASU by 44 strokes at Oakcreek Country Club.