Ribeiro connects on a shot in the Pima Fall Invitational on Oct. 10, 2022. (Photo by John Guerrero courtesy of the MCC athletics department)

Mesa Community College golfer Tomas Riberio qualifies for NJCAA national championship as individual

Tomas Ribeiro will compete as an individual in the NJCAA DII National Championships from May 23-26 in Plymouth, IN.

Ribeiro will compete on his own in the championship as his team ended up with a fifth place finish and will not be making the trip to the event. 

For Ribeiro, being able to compete for a national championship will give him a chance to keep a special promise he made to his coach, even if he will be competing by himself.

“It feels pretty good, obviously not the same as going with the team, but going as an individual is going to be nice because that’s what I promised my coach at the beginning of the year is to a national championship,” said Ribeiro.

Riibeiro earned his place in the national championship after he finished third in the Region I championship on April 30.

Ribeiro started off the event well, as he shot a field low 68 on day one of the tournament. 

On day two, Ribeiro came back down to earth as he shot his worst score during his time at the event with a 75. 

Golf is a mental game, and those who are successful have short term memory from shot to shot. 

Ribeiro knew he and his team needed a bounce back after day two to stay competitive in the event. 

“It’s all about maintaining your posture and being self positive. I told my teammates it’s a four day tournament so you have to stay patient,” said Ribeiro, “as well as you can play good golf you can play bad golf, you just gotta stay calm there’s a lot of holes to make mistakes and a lot of holes to get them back.”

Ribeiro would finish day three with a 74, and day four with a 70 as he finished the Region I championship three strokes over par. 

On day four Ribeiro needed to stave off a late push from Beau Autery of Paradise Valley Community College, who ended up finishing five over par and tied for seventh for the event. 

Though a seventh place finish may not seem like Ribeiro had to battle to keep his third place spot, that is far from the truth as Autery only shot two shots more than Ribeiro and was the closest player to attempt to unseat him from qualifying for the NJCAA national championship.

The highest individual finisher of the Region I championship who was not a part of the two winning teams earns a ticket to the NJCAA national championship to compete as an individual.

Autery may have finished two shots behind in the entire event, but on day four, he made a valiant push to close the gap between him and Ribeiro as he was four shots under par on the final day. 

Ribeiro was unaware of the push by Autery until the final eight holes when his coach let him know he had a three stroke lead over Autery. 

At that point Ribeiro understood that he didn’t need to play aggressive to stay in front, he just had to continue to play his game and make his opponent take the risks to make birdie or eagle to close the gap between them.

“Keep it in play, I have the advantage and try to make pars,” said Ribeiro on his approach coming down the stretch, “make him go for the birdies, with such an advantage like that I mean three shots is a lot, it was keep the ball in play, try to hit the green and two putt and maintain confidence the whole way.”

Riberio will compete in his last event as a Thunderbird, but will continue his collegiate career at the University of Western New Mexico.

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