Among the 45 individual golfers selected to play in the NCAA regional tournament, sophomore Andres Gonzales qualified to represent Long Beach State on college golf’s biggest stage.
Gonzales’ average score of 71.91 and his 10 out of 12 top 25 finishes were good enough to receive an at-large bid into the tournament at Stanford Golf Course on Stanford’s campus.
“When I found out that I qualified I got very excited and was proud of myself,” Gonzales said.
2017 has been a good year for Gonzalez, who has finished in the top ten in his last three tournaments leading up to this weekend’s regional.
“There was some up and downs, but mostly good golf,” Gonzalez said. “I really improved this year.”
With his best posted scores being two rounds of 66 (5 under par), Gonzalez has proven that he can go low and find himself in contention to win.
“I developed much better course management and worked on the little details of my swing,” Gonzalez said. “Working on those little details and hitting different shots are important.”
Success hasn’t come easy for the sophomore in the past. His long-term adjustments over the course of the 2017 season have slowly progressed Gonzalez’s game into national recognition.
“You might not realize [the difference] in the short term but overtime, it adds up and you improve your game,” Gonzalez said. “My expectations for this weekend are high. I’ve been working harder than ever this year and I’m looking to perform very well.”
Gonzalez has made 119 birdies and three eagles this season. His top finishing position was a tie for sixth at the Wyoming Cowboy Classic where he carded 72,70 and 68 for a total of six under par.
Hailing from Mexico City, Mexico, Gonzalez grew up around the game and developed a strong passion that led him to receiving a scholarship to play at LBSU.
“I came to LBSU because it’s close to home,” Gonzalez said. “I love the weather and the coaches here are great.”
Gonzalez is very deeply rooted in his Mexican heritage and models himself after the professionals he can relate to the most. The young golfer is also very confident in joining those he admires in the near future.
“I always look up to the Mexican professionals that are trying to make the PGA tour,” Gonzalez said. “I see myself there. I’m going to be there soon.”
Before he can think about that, Gonzalez must set his sights on the upcoming NCAA regionals May 15-17. He will be playing among the west coast’s top college golfers and will have to be firing on all cylinders to post another mid 60’s round to keep him in contention.
“When you have those kinds of rounds everything is working together,” Gonzalez said. “I normally have a good short game, so when I am hitting longer [approach] shots better I play well.”
Gonzalez may not be the longest hitter to compete at Stanford this weekend, but he possesses a great short game around the greens that he relies on to score.
“I don’t consider myself a long hitter,” Gonzalez said. “I am more [accurate] with my drives and my short game is really my strength.”
The next step for LBSU’s standout is the National Championships at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Illinois. As only the second golfer in LBSU history to be invited to the NCAA playoffs, Gonzalez spoke about what it would mean to him to advance through the regional. The first golfer to earn an at-large bid was Daniel Chian last year.
“Qualifying for the national championship would be huge for me,” he said. “I’ve had three top tens in my last three tournaments and I’m looking for another one and to be somewhere closer to the lead.”
With a huge opportunity at the beginning of next week, Gonzalez will be looking to make his family, school and himself proud with a strong performance.