Clovis alum Robert Goff said putting was the weakest aspect of his game before going to college. (Courtesy photo)
By Jesse Wolfersberger: CNJ staff writer
New Mexico State University golf coach Scott Lieberwirth knows the wind isn’t going to bother one of his players. Not when that player grew up in eastern New Mexico.
“Any time it gets windy,” Lieberwirth said, “I’ll put my money on the Clovis boy. He’s used to that.”
Clovis High grad and Aggies senior Robert Goff proved his coach right in November, rallying from three strokes behind in a wind-swept final round to win the University of Hawaii’s Fall Intercollegiate Tournament.
Goff, who won a four-way playoff, also helped NMSU pick up its first win in two years.
Goff said winning the tournament last semester has been the biggest highlight playing college golf so far.
“Just the fact we were going to Hawaii was cool,” said Goff, who shot 2-under-par in the final round. “I didn’t expect to win.”
Goff drained a 25-foot birdie putt on the fourth hole of the playoff for the win.
When Goff first arrived at NMSU, making a 25-foot putt, much less winning a tournament, was a tall order.
“By far he’s made the steadiest improvement (of anyone on the team),” Lieberwirth said. “He just got better in all phases of the game. He had some work to do at first, but he’s turned into a solid player.
Lieberwirth said putting was Goff’s biggest weakness.
“He’s always been a decent ball striker,” Lieberwirth said. “He’s a big kid, so distance was never a problem, but he struggled with putting. We made some changes, he embraced those changes and he’s made putting a solid part of his game.”
Lieberwirth said winning the tournament gave Goff the boost he needed to take his game to a new plateau.
“Winning in Hawaii gave him confidence that he can play on this level,” Lieberwirth said. “It made him want to go out and win more.”
New Mexico State picked up its second team title last week at the 2006 Cowboy Classic in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Goff finished tied for 32nd at 4-over.
Goff said one of the biggest adjustments he had to make going from high school golf to college was endurance. In high school, most tournaments are only two rounds. In college, most are three, and players often play 36 holes on the first day.
“There is fatigue,” said Goff, who helped Clovis finished third at state in 2000 and 2001. “That’s one of the things I don’t like about college golf. It’s a grueling experience.”
The Aggies play the Sun Belt Conference championship at Boise, Idaho, the first week of May, and, depending on the result, could play in the regional tournament in Tucson, Ariz., in mid-May.
Once this season is over, Goff said he plans on staying with the team as an assistant coach for a semester while he finishes his degree, then he’ll try to play professionally.
Goff, who is majoring in business computer systems, said he’ll be sad when his time at NMSU is up. The feeling is mutual.
“I’ve been fortunate to coach him,” Lieberwirth said. “I’m sad to see him go.”