Updated: Nov 11, 2020
The Sun Devil men's golf program has it all to compete for a NCAA title this year.
It took steps -- expected for the tradition of the program -- to be in that position in the near future.
"All of these future Sun Devils are excellent students with high character and engaging personalities," Thurmond said. "They will compete and achieve on the course and live their lives in a way that will bring esteem to our program and to all Sun Devil Nation both in college and then at the next level. I know they are honored to be Sun Devils and we are honored that they chose ASU."
The trio of Preston Summerhays, Kiko Francisco Coelho and Jose Luis Ballester all bring special honors, digits and awards to the program. But it goes beyond rankings and wins. Let's take a look at each.
LOCAL FLAIR: PRESTON SUMMERHAYS
Scottsdale native Preston Summerhays, comes in with numerous accomplishments in his young career. Most recently Summerhays competed in the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot finishing just three strokes short of the cut and impressing many across the sport.
Coach Thurmond pointed to the rapid development that he's witnessed out of Summerhays.
"Watching Preston develop over the last four-plus years has been so fun for me," Thurmond said. "We had him in on an unofficial visit four years ago. He's always been a really good golfer, but I don't think I've watched any player improve and develop faster than what Preston has. He works so hard with an unwavering commitment to excellence."
THE PRESTON SUMMERHAYS FILE First-team Rolex Junior All-American Youngest winner of the Sunnehanna Amateur (2020) 2018 and 2019 Utah Amateur champion Competed in the 2020 U.S. Open Winner of 2019 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship 2019 United States Junior Presidents Cup team USGA record for 2 rounds of qualifying 65-60
"He will arrive with a level of golf and competitive experience that you just can't find in an 18-year-old very often. He's comfortable with the best players in the world and he's one of them. There are many parts of his game to love. I think he is already at a PGA-Tour level around the greens. I have seen very few who can chip and pitch like Preston. He has no brake in his game either. When he is [playing] well he will keep going and he can win at any level and shoot very low scores. He has put in the work and he knows he can win any time he plays."
Coach Kirakossian also expressed how much he enjoys watching Summerhays play.
"We love watching Preston compete, it feels we are watching lessons every time he tees it [up]," Kirakossian said. "Watching the way he navigates around a course and plans out how to play each hole is beautiful, and you couple that with amazing short game, you have a fantastic player. While he has a great list of accomplishments, there is no doubt that what he wants most is still in his future. Preston sets high standards and values and lives [through] them. We are excited to have him part of the Sun Devil family."
FROM PORTUGAL TO FLORIDA AND NOW TEMPE: MEET KIKO COELHO
Widely expected to be No. 1 in the AJGA rankings when they are released but currently sitting at No. 23, Kiko Francisco Coelho out of Florida (Lake Mary) will be another key component to the Sun Devil squad as soon as he gets on campus.
"Kiko grew up in Portugal and moved to Florida a couple years ago," Coach Thurmond said. "He carries himself and has the presence of the PGA Tour player already. His expectations for himself, work ethic, maturity, and understanding of the game are at a very high level. He's a happy person who is fun to be around. He's had a very successful career already and comes in ranked high and accomplished, but it's clear from knowing and watching Kiko is that what he wants most is in his future. That's something we really look for in recruiting. He knows who he is, what he does, and where he is going. He's hungry."
THE KIKO FILE 2020 AJGA Second Team All American 2020 Florida State Junior Champion 2020 Portuguese National Champion for age division (2015, 2016, 2017) 2018 14-15 age division Doral Publix Champion 3rd in Evian Junior Championship (best finish by any Portuguese until now) 3x US Kids Champion
Kiko is the ultimate professional and is fun and light hearted but determined to be great," notes Kirakossian. "He embodies many of the values we look for in a Sun Devil. He showed a big commitment moving from Portugal to Florida in pursuit of his dream to play on the PGA Tour and it's paying off. This summer he won the Florida State Boys Junior Championship. A huge accomplishment and we couldn't be prouder. Kiko has a bright future."
"Signing with ASU is a dream come true, it is the best golf program in the country and has great alumni," says Kiko. "It will be a great challenge for my golf and perseverance. Hopefully I can help the program grow even more and I'm looking forward to helping the team accomplish every goal, hopefully some NCAA titles and set team records. I can't wait to build and strengthen some friendships, practice with the team, and get better each and every day." -- Kiko Coelho
ANOTHER SPANIARD IN OUR PROGRAM AND THAT IS USUALLY AWESOME: MEET JOSE LUIS BALLESTER
Coming from across the Atlantic Ocean with nearly a decade of success in junior and amateur competition, Spanish signee Jose Luis Ballester is the final integral piece of the Sun Devils elite 2021 recruiting class.
"We've known about Jose for a lot of years now," Coach Thurmond said. "It's so exciting that this day has finally arrived for him to officially become a Sun Devil. Jose is a world-class athlete and golfer and the top player in Europe under 18 years old."
"He has tremendous golf skill and can do whatever he wants with the golf ball. He hits it high and far, can move it in different directions, has a variety of short-game shots, and knows how to win. One of the things I see in him that reminds me of Jon Rahm is his strong and confident aura. When you watch him you just feel that he's going to do great things and find a way to win, and he often does. We've always felt a really special connection with Josele and can't wait for him to continue to the Sun Devil tradition of amazing players and people from Spain."
"I still remember the first time I watched Jose play as it took one iron shot to know he was special," Coach Kirakossian added. "The sound he creates upon impact is rarely heard at junior golf tournaments. It reminds me of Rafa Nadal but as a golfer. He plays to win with a fiery passion but complimented calm demeanor that allows him to execute a consistent routine with focus on every shot. He carries himself with an inspiring energy and is going to accomplish big things at ASU and beyond."
YEAR BY YEAR WITH JOSE LUIS BALLESTER 2013: Spanish Champion U-10 2015: Spanish Champion U-12 2016: Spanish Champion U-14/2nd place at the European U-14 with Spain 2017: Spanish Champion U-14/Runner up at the Reid Trophy 2018: 2nd place at the European Young Masters with Spain and Runner up at the British Boys 2019: Runner up at the Orange Bowl, Spanish Champion U-16 (2019), 3rd place at the Toyota World Junior Championship with Spain, Runner up at the European Young Masters (Individual) and Runner up at the Puerta de Hierro Match Play 2020: Runner up at the Orange Bowl
Thurmond acknowledged that he couldn't have landed these recruits without the persistence of associate coach Armen Kirakossian.
"I want to thank Coach Armen for his leadership in our recruiting," Thurmond said. "He's done an excellent job in every part of the recruiting process. I also want to thank all the people who support our program in all the many ways you do. Recruits see what we have here in the way of tradition, support, facilities, resources, passion, etc. and they want to be a part of it."