Sosa's 61-74--135 Leads Southwestern Invitational; Hitchner Is 9th

February 1, 2023
By Michael R Fermoyle

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. -- The University of Texas athletic website didn't have a lot to say about Jacob Sosa before this week's Southwestern Invitational began. A freshman from Austin, Sosa had impressive junior credentials (No. 9 in the 2022 American Junior Golf Association rankings and No. 19 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Rankings). But he began his college career with a not-so-impressive tie for 42nd place in the Longhorn's first tournament last fall, the Olympia Fields Fighting Illini Invitational, where he shot 74-72-70--216 and finished 13 strokes behind the winner (Michael Thorbjornsen, Stanford).

Golfweek currently has him at No. 444 out of the approximately 2,500 NCAA Division I players that are ranked.

But the Texas website has been full of news about Sosa since he torched North Ranch Country Club on Monday and put up a 61 (11 under). Not only was it the best score by nine shots for Sosa during his brief time at Texas, but it was also a tournament record and a school record -- at a school with a distinguished golf history that includes Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite, Justin Leonard and Scottie Scheffler. The 61 was good for a four-stroke lead after Day 1, and even though he followed it with a 74 in windy conditions on Tuesday, his 36-hole total of 135 still leads by three.

Sosa was leading the individual standings, and the defending NCAA champion Longhorns were first in the teams standings after Day 1, but that didn't give them preferential tee times on Tuesday. They went out early, and that was when the wind was the strongest.

Having made three eagles in his opening round, one of them thanks to a holed wedge shot at the 415-yard, par-4 second hole, Sosa parred the first two holes in ihis second round, then made two birdies in a row at the third and fourth holes to go 13 for the tournament through 22 holes. But he came back to the pack, somewhat, with five bogeys in his next 10 holes. 

A birdie at the short par-5 15th (474 yards) got him going in the right direction again, and he matched his front-nine 37 with another one on the back side.

Two of his teammates -- Christian Maas and Keaton Vo, both freshmen -- are tied for second place at 138, along with Michael Brennan of Wake Forest. Brennan had the low score on a difficult day, a 68. Only two players broke 70, and only eight players in the field of 66 managed to break par. Maas and Vo were two of them, Maas with a 70 and Vo with a 71.

Washington's Chuan-Tai Lin also shot 71, and he's alone in fifth at 139. 

One behind him at 140 is UCLA's Pablo Enro, who had the other sub-70, a 69. He's tied for sixth with Gregory Solhaug (70) of Oregon and Luke Potter of Arizona State. Potter was second after a first-round 65, but bogeyed two of the first three holes Tuesday, doubled the fifth and made two more bogeys on the way to a front-nine 41. He birdied both of the par 5s on the back nine (Nos. 12 and 15) and bounced back from a bogey at the par-3 17th with a birdie at the 18th to salvage a 75.

Another player who rallied on the back nine was Pepperdine's Derek Hitchner. Starting the day in eighth place after a first-round 69, he, like Sosa,went out early and had to deal with wind velocities of 15 to 25 miles per hour. The 2021 Minnesota State Amateur champion -- and MGA Player of the Year -- bogeyed the third hole, came back with birdies at the long par-5 fourth (581 yards) and the par-4 fifth (425), but he surrendered three more strokes in a span of two holes, with a bogey at the seventh and a double bogey at the 235-yard, par-3 eighth.

That wasn't his only double. The second one came at the 525-yard, par-5 12th, right after he birdied the 11th. But the fifth-year senior from Blake (he won the state Class AA high school championship in 2016 with record score of 10-under 134 at Ridges @ Sand Creek) rallied with three birdies in his last four holes. He capped off his big finish with a gorgeous wedge shot and a 3-foot putt for a birdie at the 424-yard, par-4 18th, which got him back to even for the day, and he signed for a 72. That put him at 141, and in sole possession of ninth place.

(Hitchner is the highest-ranked player in th field, according to Golfweek, which has him at No. 9.)

It should come as no surprise that with one player on top of the individual standings and two more tied for second that Texas leads the team standings -- by a lot. The Longhorns were a combined 18 under on Monday, with a team score of 270, and they put together the second-best total on Tuesday, a 290. Their two-day total of 560 has them 17 shot clear of second-place Oregon, which finished late and inched ahead of Pepperdine with a 577.

Hitchner's strong finish helped to give Pepperdine the low total for Day 2, an even-par 288, and the Waves are third going into the final round at 578, one ahead of fourth-place Arizona State. Then it's another five back to Georgia in fifth at 584.         

Southwestern Invitational

At North Ranch Country Club

Par 72, 7,017 yards

Westlake Village, Calif. 

Second-round results

The final round of the tournament will be shown Wednesday on The Golf Channel, beginning at 3:30 p.m. (CST)

1. Texas                     270-290--560

2. Oregon                   284-293--577

3. Pepperdine             290-288--578

4. Arizona State         275-304--579

5. Georgia                  288-296--584

6. Washington            290-295--585

T7. UCLA                    295-294--589

T7. San Diego State   288-301--589

9. Wake Forest           292-302--594

10. UNLV                    297-302--599

11. San Jose State     298-306--604

12. USC                      300-310--610

Individual results

1. Jacob Sosa, Texas                        61-74--135

T2. Michael Brennan, Wake Forest   70-68--138

T2. Christian Maas, Texas                 68-70--138

T2. Keaton Vo, Texas                         67-71--138

5. Chuan-Tai Lin, Washington            68-71--139

T6. Pablo Ereno, UCLA                      71-69--140

T6. Gregory Solhaug, Oregon             70-70--140

T6. Luke Potter, Arizona State            65-75--140

9. Derek Hitchner, Pepperdine         69-72--141

T10. Taehoon Song, Washington        73-70--143

T10. Owen Avrit, Oregon                    71-72--143

T10. Maxwell Ford, Georgia                71-72--143

T10. Justin Hastings, San Diego St.    70-73--143

T10. Shea Lague, San Diego State      67-76--143    

Michael R Fermoyle

Mike Fermoyle’s amateur golf career features state titles in five different decades, beginning with the State Public Links (1969), three State Amateurs (1970, 1973 and 1980), and four State Four-Ball championships (1972, 1985, 1993 and 2001). Fermoyle was medalist at the Pine to Palm in 1971, won the Resorters in 1972, made the cut at the State Amateur 18 consecutive years (1969 to 1986), the last being 2000, and amassed 13 top-ten finishes. Fermoyle also made it to the semi-final matches at the MGA’s annual match play championship, the Players’, in 1982 and 1987.

Fermoyle enjoyed a career as a sportswriter at the St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch before retiring in 2006. Two years later he began a second career covering the golf beat exclusively for the MGA and its website,, where he ranks individual prep golfers and teams, provides coverage on local amateur and professional tournaments and keeps tabs on how Minnesotans are faring on the various professional tours.

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