Business administration senior Geoff Gonzalez pieced together one of the best individual seasons a Cal Poly golfer has ever had this year.
First, he was selected to attend the NCAA regionals in Colorado — his third time participating in a NCAA tournament.
“I am the only teammate to represent Cal Poly golf at regionals in the last five years,” Gonzalez said.
Not only that, last weekend, Gonzalez became the first golfer in Cal Poly history to earn a NCAA Championship berth.
No other golfer has come close. The men’s golf team went to the regionals twice, and Travis Bertoni went individually, but that happened before Gonzalez came to Cal Poly.
Gonzalez said it is a mystery how he got chosen.
“The NCAA bids to individuals who had a great year, but their team did not advance,” he said. “There is no clear way to make it, but if you perform well, consistently, then they will give you the nod.”
There are a total of six regional tournaments being conducted. Three regional tournaments have 13 teams and 10 individual players competing, and three regional tournaments have 14 teams and five individual players participating.
He said working hard and playing consistently is what enabled him to separate himself as a player and qualify for a spot at NCAA regionals three times.
“In 2007-2008 when I didn’t make it, (it was because) I didn’t perform well over the entire year,” Gonzalez said.
Now, he is moving on to the next step and has the chance to earn an individual championship. But playing golf for Cal Poly hasn’t always been easy for Gonzalez.
“It is definitely a love-hate relationship,” he said.
Gonzalez said he loves his teammates, coaches and most of the people he’s gotten to know along the way, and they have shared many great times together.
However, he said the team and his individual achievements have been remarkable considering their very limited opportunities. A lot of the team’s potential is hindered by the athletic department and the lack of scholarship money and funding, he said.
“We have done so much more than teams with funding and support,” he said. “We don’t get much love from the school, and that hurts over the years.”
Despite these issues, the team continues to grow and support each other.
Freshman teammate Alex Franklin said Gonzalez is well respected by the entire team, and they are all proud of his accomplishments.
“He’s the oldest guy on the team, and the best player,” Franklin said. “He’s been around for a while, so I really look up to him and try and emulate not only the kind of player he is, but the kind of teammate and person (he is) as well.”
Franklin said all around, Gonzalez is a solid player.
“There is no outstanding flaw that I can see, and his game is rarely out of his control, which makes for an excellent player,” he said.
His teammates are not the only ones who recognize Gonzalez’s talent — Cal Poly students do as well.
Justin Silva, an agribusiness senior, said he does not normally follow golf but he knows about Gonzalez.
“I have heard that he is a really good player and is an asset to the team,” Silva said.
The team will have to continue on without Gonzalez since he is graduating in June. His immediate plans for the summer are to stay amateur and play in several elite amateur events across the nation, ranging from Washington to South Carolina.
“In September, I will be turning pro and trying to pursue my career as a professional golfer,” Gonzalez said.