Christopher Colla | Chico State | 2018 CSUSM Fujikura Invitational

Christopher Colla | Chico State | 2018 CSUSM Fujikura Invitational

Wisconsin.Golf photo / Rob Hernandez

VISTA, California -- It’s easier for Christopher Colla to shake the winter rust off his golf game now than it was growing up in Fond du Lac, but mid-season form continues to be a work-in-progress.

The Chico State sophomore chased it Tuesday through the ups and downs of Shadowridge CC that proved as literal as they were figurative for Colla in his first start of the spring season on a gorgeous morning at the Cal State University-San Marcos Fujikura Invitational.

On his first hole, he ripped a drive just off the fairway on the second hole and had a pitching wedge into the green on the 381-yard par-4. He walked away with a triple-bogey 7.

On his last hole, Colla pushed his drive into the right rough on the 545-yard, par-5 first hole, punched short of a greenside pond, chipped on and lipped out his 12-foot putt for birdie. He tapped in for par to close out a 5-over-par 77 that left him tied for 15th in the 79-golfer field.

Colla played his final nine holes in 1-under-par after a rocky start. Unfortunately for the 2014 WIAA Division 2 state champion, it wasn’t enough to keep his Wildcats ahead of Cal State-San Marcos, which shot a final-round 295 to top Chico State (299) by one shot for the team title.

“I hit the ball well all three rounds,” said Colla, who shot 72-73 in Monday’s 36-hole opener and was tied for eighth place entering the final round. “I didn’t make as many putts as I wanted to, but you kind of have to expect that out here. The greens are difficult. A lot of times you’re lagging it from 8 to 10 feet, when usually you can give those a run. I’m reasonably happy. It’s a solid finish.”

Chico State, an NCAA Division II school located about 170 miles northeast of San Francisco, has high hopes for a return to the NCAA Championships this spring. The Wildcats lost in the match- play final to St. Leo (Fla.) at the 2016 championships, but were passed over for a bid in 2017.

They ended the fall season ranked 11th in the Golf Coaches Association of America national rankings and 18th in the GolfStat.com poll. Although it came up one stroke short against a San Marcos team that dropped out of the top 25 in the final poll last fall, Chico State finished 10 shots ahead of Cal State-Monterey Bay, which is ranked eighth by the GCAA and seventh by GolfStat.

“I always tell them they have to put us in position to win the tournament because that’s where you get the most experience,” Wildcats coach Nick Green said. “Whether we lose or win some of these things, hopefully toward the end of the season we’re playing better in the final rounds; we’re getting more comfortable with it. It’s a golf tournament; it’s not supposed to be easy.”

And it wasn’t.

Chico State would like to have had a mulligan on the par-4 13th hole. Two of its scoring golfers, Josh McCollum (73) and Serge Kiriluk (77), made triple-bogeys there and another, Colby Dean (78), made a double-bogey. Its four scoring golfers were a collective 6-under after that.

“We start the day with a three-shot lead and we get off to a slow start,” said Green, whose team finished at 12-over 876. “It was nice to see we had some fight and made some birdies, but ...”

The way the day unfolded served as a cold reminder to Colla of one of his weaknesses.

“We’d like to see some better starts from him,” Green said. “He usually gets behind and then he brings it back. That’s a testament to the fight that he has, but you don’t always want to play from behind. We’re working on those things, but he’s a grinder.”

Indeed, that’s the kind of final round it was for Colla, who “caught a flyer from the rough” with his approach shot on his opening hole that, compounded by a three-putt, led to his triple-bogey.

“I just had to buckled down and try to make pars,” said Colla, who bogeyed three holes in a row making the turn, but then didn’t make a mistake the rest of the way. “I relaxed a little bit, kind of got into it. We were a little tight to start off, maybe a little nervous as a team. You just have to get into the flow of the round and, once that happened, we played a little bit better and gave it a run.”

Colla, who successfully navigated college golf's so-called off-season with help from Fond du Lac club pro Don DuChateau and his new sports bar/simulator facility while home over winter break, will now have a month off before his next event at the Tom Tierney Pioneer Shootout, in Fullerton, California.

By virtue of his top-15 finish, Colla is guaranteed a spot for that event. But even he knows he’ll have to play well to keep it.

“We’ve really got six guys that can play the (No.) 5 spot,” Colla said. “That’s why it’s so important to qualify for the tournaments. And then once you qualify for the tournaments, (it’s important) to finish in that top 15 and get that exemption to the next tournament. This year, I hope to be just a consistent player. I’m not the kind of guy who hits it far and makes a lot of birdies, but (I’m) the guy who shoots 71 or 72 every round and makes a lot of pars and is that steadying ship.”


Team/Player Leaderboard
Shadowridge Country Club - Shadowridge CC 2018 Invite Par: 72 Yardage: 7008
, CA US
Feb 5-6, 2018
Click on the round header, (Rd 1, Rd 2, etc), to view previous round data
Pos. Team/Player (seed) Rd 1 Rd 2 Rd 3 Total
1 CSU - San Marcos 286 294 295 875
2 Chris Tuulik (1) 70 66 74 210
T15 Justin Vrzich (2) 70 79 73 222
T23 Braeden Koran (3) 72 78 77 227
T23 Jordan McBrayer (4) 74 79 74 227
T23 Randy Vergel de Dios (5) 82 71 74 227
2 Chico State 290 287 299 876
3 Josh McCollum (2) 71 70 73 214
T5 Kelley Sullivan (1) 73 71 72 216
T15 Christopher Colla (5) 72 73 77 222
T37 Colby Dean (4) 79 73 78 230
T43 Serge Kiriluk (3) 74 81 77 232
3 Cal State Monterey Bay 294 297 295 886
1 Elis Svard (1) 68 70 71 209
T17 Edward Hackett (2) 72 78 73 223
T17 Callum Carlstrom (3) 73 76 74 223
T43 Kirabo Reed (4) 82 73 77 232
70 Maximillian Grieb (5) 81 81 79 241
T4 California Baptist 295 297 297 889
T7 Ryan Monsalve (4) 71 72 76 219
T9 Ben Hallam (2) 75 78 68 221
T23 Greg Gonzalez (1) 78 73 76 227
T30 Matt Harris (5) 71 77 80 228
T43 Ivan Monsalve (3) 80 75 77 232
T4 Stanislaus State 293 301 295 889
T7 Tim Sauer (3) 72 73 74 219
T9 Jeff Yamaguchi (2) 76 75 70 221
T23 Jahaan Nargussi (1) 80 77 70 227
T37 Michael Jurra III (5) 72 77 81 230
T49 Brad Sparrer (4) 73 76 84 233
T6 UC San Diego 298 293 303 894
T5 Adam Navigato (1) 73 74 69 216
T20 Hayden Hui (2) 74 72 79 225
T33 Jacob Johnson (3) 78 71 80 229
T33 Justin Woo (4) 73 81 75 229
61 Mateusz Kucz (5) 78 76 83 237
T6 Sonoma State U. 295 309 290 894
4 Dexter Simonds (2) 70 72 73 215
T17 Devin Gregg (4) 76 77 70 223
T30 Spencer Clapp (3) 78 80 70 228
T39 Ian Hofmann (1) 72 80 79 231
T79 Riley Killip (5) 77 0 77 154
8 Western New Mexico 307 297 299 903
T9 Sam Ruston (5) 76 68 77 221
T20 Pedro De La Vega (3) 78 74 73 225
T20 Harry O'Callaghan (4) 76 77 72 225
T65 Ross White (2) 81 78 80 239
T79 Gonzalo Pan De Soraluce (1) 77 0 77 154
9 CSU San Bernardino 307 294 308 909
T9 Tristan Stone (2) 78 69 74 221
T33 Cody Hall (1) 74 75 80 229
T43 Sacha Barbarin (3) 80 77 75 232
T54 Brandon Steffins (4) 78 73 83 234
T62 Drew Fehrman (5) 77 82 79 238
10 California Lutheran 310 304 301 915
T9 Tyler Ferrier (3) 75 75 71 221
T30 Drake Jones (4) 74 77 77 228
T49 Ryan Kyaw (2) 81 76 76 233
T58 Zane Jarrett (1) 81 76 79 236
T65 Slater Sivage (5) 80 82 77 239
11 La Verne 306 302 310 918
T9 Hisham Hussein (2) 75 74 72 221
T43 Pitiluk Phanomchai (5) 76 76 80 232
T49 Conner Davis (3) 79 77 77 233
T58 Aaron DiGiamarino (1) 79 75 82 236
T62 Jason Brown (4) 76 81 81 238
12 Redlands 315 302 304 921
T23 Cade Lawson (1) 78 77 72 227
T33 Alex Stroes (4) 78 75 76 229
T43 Cameron Cooper (3) 81 74 77 232
T49 Jake Hollander (2) 78 76 79 233
77 Dylan Merchant (5) 82 85 86 253
13 Tiffin University 312 313 306 931
T39 Jay Green (1) 78 77 76 231
T39 Logan Price (2) 77 79 75 231
T54 Noah Barth (4) 80 76 78 234
T62 Tomas Krivanec (3) 77 81 80 238
T65 Jordan Bollenbacher (5) 81 81 77 239
14 Biola University 310 315 314 939
T23 Parker Buck (4) 75 75 77 227
T54 Kyle McAbee (3) 77 83 74 234
T58 Austin Bishop (1) 79 76 81 236
T71 Tristan Ginkel (5) 79 81 82 242
78 Samuel Shih (2) 87 86 82 255
15 CSU-Dominguez Hills 329 310 306 945
T39 Raynard Belmonte (1) 83 74 74 231
T49 William Yang (2) 81 76 76 233
69 Miles Young (3) 82 80 78 240
73 Neil Bhakta (4) 85 83 78 246
T74 Kyle Campano (5) 83 80 84 247
16 Westminster College - UT 330 315 310 955
T54 Davis Amis (5) 81 77 76 234
T65 Logan Skalka (1) 86 82 71 239
T71 Chase Godi (3) 85 78 79 242
T74 Austin Anderson (4) 85 78 84 247
76 Alex DeBry (2) 79 84 85 248