Gauchos Open Season With 3rd-Place Finish at Nick Watney Invitational

Zach Smith (Photo by Steve Chen)
Zach Smith (Photo by Steve Chen)

MADERA, Calif. - Junior Brett Bennett shot a 5-under par 211, including a 7-under par 65 in Thursday's final round, to finish tied for eighth-place, helping UC Santa Barbara to a third-place finish at the Nick Watney Invitational played at the Dragon Fly Golf Club. The tournament was the Gauchos' 2018-19 debut.

Bennett's third round 65 equaled the low round of the tournament and it helped him jump from a 32nd-place tie into eighth by the end of the tournament. Senior Zach Smith, who redshirted the 2017-18 season, made his return to action a good one as he tied for 12th with a 4-under par 212. Smith was at or under par in all three rounds of the tournament.

UCSB had two other top-25 finishers in junior Justin Sheparovich and sophomore Brandon Jacobs who tied for 25th with identical 1-over par 217. Sheparovich is a transfer from the University of Hartford while Jacobs came to Santa Barbara from St. Mary's College. Senior Ryan Cuenca carded a 5-over par 221 and tied for 39th. Cuenca was solid in Monday's first two round as he shot even par 72s in both.

The University of Nevada led the tournament from wire-to-wire but, ultimately only defeated Brigham Young by one shot. The Wolf Pack recorded a 30-under par 834 while BYU was 29-under. Seattle University use a hard charge in the final round to finish fourth at 11-under par, while UC Irivne was fifth at even par.

Nevada's Joey Vrzich won individual medalist honors at 14-under par 202, two shots better than BYU's Carson Lundell and three better than Rhett Rasmussen, also of BYU. Seattle's Nathan Cogswell was the only other player in the tournament to finish with a double-digit under par score as he was -10.

The Gauchos will next tee it up at the Cullum Invitational hosted by Cal State Northridge at the Wood Ranch Golf Club in Simi Valley, Calif. on Oct. 15-16.