After two seasons without cracking the Arizona State lineup, senior Gabe Salvanera made his debut start for the Sun Devils this weekend at the Maui Jim Intercollegiate. But the former juco transfer’s first official round didn’t go as planned, as Salvanera carded two triples bogeys and shot 7-over 77 at Mirabel Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.
That’s when one of Salvanera’s fellow Arizona State seniors pulled the ultimate teammate move.
Ryggs Johnston, who is no stranger to struggles as he was in and out of the lineup as a junior, texted Salvanera some words of encouragement after his opening round, saying, “Hey man, first round in the lineup is always a tough one. Don’t beat yourself up. I know you can just as easily go out and shoot 63 tomorrow! That’s the nice thing about team tourneys is that every day is a new opportunity to help the team win! Let’s do it!”
Salvanera responded, “Thanks bro! 36 holes left, let’s make it count!”
A day later, Johnston’s gesture proved prophetic as Salvanera bounced back with a bogey-free 63.
“Could be our lowest round of the whole season,” Arizona State head coach Matt Thurmond said via an Instagram post. “These little leadership things happen all the time behind the scenes. I just thought this was a cool one that I wanted to share; one guy caring about his teammate, creating a little bit of hope and a little bit of vision of what could happen.”
Arizona State went on to finish runner-up at Auburn on Sunday. Salvanera closed in 66 to count two of three rounds.