Although he did not know it, Long Beach State men’s golf junior Joe Fryer teed off on the 17th hole in the final round of the Sacramento State Invitational March 6 as the tournament leader. Instead of checking the live scoring system throughout the round like he normally does, he decided that he would just stay in the moment and finish the round with peak focus.
“I wasn’t looking at the leaderboard at all, so I didn’t know where I was at in the tournament,” Fryer said. “I just really wanted to stick to my own game regardless of how things were going.”
Fryer needed to hold onto a one-stroke lead with two holes to play to capture his second career win for Long Beach. After his approach shot fell short of the 17th green at Valley High Country Club in Elk Grove, he chipped in for a birdie from the fringe about 10 feet from the pin to get to 5-under for the round. The shot of his week pushed his lead to two strokes where it would stand after he made par to secure the win.
“He’s just very skilled and clearly one of the best players on our team,” head coach Michael Wilson said. “He’s got length [in his tee shots], he’s got hands [in short game control] and he does the little things right every day.”
The victory came at a peculiar time for Fryer, whose last three events have been some of the worst results in his career. He tied for 36th at the Waves Challenge shooting 21-over par, finished 69th after a 23-over par week at Southwest Invitational and came in 78th at the John Burns Intercollegiate all over the course of a month in the spring 2018 season. Frustration set in, but he was never in doubt of his ability to change the momentum in his direction on the golf course.
“I just felt really comfortable on those greens and was reading the lines well,” Fryer said. “I didn’t hit the ball as we’ll as I would have liked but my putting really carried me.”
The cold spell came after a scorching hot start to the fall 2017 season. All three tournaments Fryer played in resulted in top-10 finishes and below par final scores. Six of his nine individual round scores registered in the 60’s.
Now that Fryer is back to winning ways, Long Beach could now be the front runners for the push for a Big West Conference Tournament April 29-May 1. In the 2017 conference tournament, Fryer shot three solid rounds to finish second at 6-under par.
“I think that we have a great team and when we’re all playing well, we can win any tournament,” Fryer said.
The 49ers finished tied for first in their last event and will look to ride the energy the top player has helped create. Long Beach tees off in the Grand Canyon University Invitational March 16-17 at the GCU Golf Course in Phoenix.