Ryotaro Tsuji became part of Barton Community College men’s golf history on Thursday, finishing up the 2019 NJCAA Division I Men’s National Championships in a tie for 18th place to earn honorable mention All-America status joining Jeremie Eloy’s 2014 accomplishment as the lone two Cougars to garner the national distinction.
Compiling a 72-hole score of 287, the sophomore also shattered Eloy’s national tournament record by fifteen strokes. Completing the four days at 1-under at the Duran Golf Club in Melbourne, Florida, Tsuji strung consecutive rounds of 2-under and 1-over before winding up the tournament as Barton’s lone entry in the event by carding a pair of even rounds.
Tsuji also was one of two other fellow Region VI golfers to earn the All-America status among the 122-player field, being joined by Garden City’s George Avgousti in the 18th position while Dodge City’s Saksit Jairak was one stroke better in a three-way tie for 15th.
The week didn’t start well for Tsuji, first off the tee box bright and early Tuesday morning in taking a double bogey on the par five. Bouncing back with a par on his second hole, Tsuji rattled off four straight birdies in making the turn at 2-under before carding a pair of birdies and bogey’s on the back nine in finishing the round tied for 16th.
Tsuji moved to 3-under for the tournament after the second hole of day two, playing the next ten holes even par before bogeying the par three 13th. Four more pars ensued with the day’s toughest hole left in the round resulting in a bogey for Tsuji’s lone round above par, slipping to a tie for 21st.
Back to the early tee time for day three, the two holes that gave Tsuji fits in the tournament again reared its head beginning with a bogey on No. 1 and a closing double bogey on the tough 18th hole spoiling a trio of birdies in what would have been another 2-under round.
Sitting in the 24th spot into the final day, two holes unexpectedly temporarily derailed Tsuji in back-to-back bogeys on the 5th and 6th. Having played the two holes at 3-under through the first three days, Tsuji was able to recover from the setback with birdies on No. 9 and 16 to card the even round score and move up the standings into the All-America top eighteen of the Championship.
Tsuji ranked in the top nine of a couple statistical categories, posting a fourth most fifty-one par scores out of the seventy-two holes while ranking 9th on the Par 4s scoring a combined 1-under 3.98 average.