|Posted September 18, 2012|
Sickness can't slow Thomas' trek to tourney title
By Anthony Sandstrom
MONTROSE, Colo. (GoThunderWolves.com - Sept. 18, 2012) - It's true that golf, more than any other sport, is more mental than physical.
Monday and Tuesday, CSU-Pueblo's Sean Thomas (Sr., Arvada, Colo.) proved it by never psyching himself out while competing at the Maverick Invitational, the first Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference tournament of the season.
Trouble is, for Thomas, who would go on to win his first large collegiate tournament Tuesday, his completely-level mental approach might have been a total accident.
"I felt so bad, I wasn't even thinking about golf," Thomas said, who was battling flu-like symptoms while the ThunderWolves made a run for a tournament title on the final day of competition Tuesday. "I was so focused on how lousy I felt, it took my mind off of golf."
After his performance at the Maverick, Thomas' preparation for future tournaments might involve getting strangers to sneeze on him. He overcame a terrible head cold to turn in his most consistent tournament of his collegiate career, shooting 2-over-par on the par-71 course at the Bridges at Black Canyon Golf Club to take top honors.
"Sean was sick all week [leading up to the tournament]," CSU-Pueblo men's golf coach Josh Koschke said. "He was sick on our travel day and got even worse Monday [when the first two rounds took place]. But he got better today."
And he was better. He shot an even-par 71 Tuesday, matching his first-round total. His biggest clutch shot was on the final hole of the tournament, sinking a birdie putt to clinch the championship - despite not being in peak physical condition.
"My depth perception was off all tournament long," Thomas admitted.
He headlined what Koschke called "a total team performance" Tuesday as the Pack came from eight shots down to nearly overtake Colorado School of Mines and win the tournament outright, finishing just one shot shy. Two ThunderWolves, Matt Porter (So., Castle Rock, Colo.) and James Berry (Sr., Traverse City, Mich.), shot 1-under-par 70s while Sean Kato (Fr., Greeley, Colo.) shot a 2-over-par 73, continuing his huge recovery after carding an 83 in the first round.
But Kato's biggest contribution to the team may not have even taken place on the course.
"Kato made me take a bunch of Alka Seltzer," Thomas said, "and that made a huge difference today. [Monday] was a real grind to get through both rounds and today was the best I've felt."
Koschke said that the team's swift turnaround, coming all the way back from fifth place after one round to just one shot back and a second-place finish, was due to an aggressive approach.
"In our team meeting Monday night, we decided we would play aggressively, not settle for the way things were, and go forward, not backward," Koschke said. "We just decided to go after it and see what happens."
Koschke concluded, though, that he was floored by what Thomas accomplished in the tournament, mostly for leading by example and showing that this team would never be down and out in any tournament.
"He was just real steady - just consistent," Koschke said. "It always seems to be that when great athletes are really sick, they just play better."
CSU-Pueblo will try to use its rousing performance as it prepares for the second RMAC tournament of the season next Monday at Fox Hollow Golf Course in Denver.