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Hankamer Breaks Through
March 8, 2018

SAN DIEGO – Dalton Hankamer is not long off the tee. Like any golfer, he may occasionally succumb to a case of the yips. But when it comes to honesty, the left-handed USD sophomore from the heart of Texas is straighter than a flagstick.

Asked how he was playing after this season’s first two tournaments, Hankamer supplied a one-word answer.

“Terrible,” he said.

“He hadn’t exactly been burning it up,” agreed Toreros first-year coach Chris Riley.

Hankamer placed 36th out of 76 golfers in USD’s first tournament, then 75th out of 92 in the second. When assessing his play, Hankamer did affix an addendum.

“But I knew I was close,” he said. “Things just weren’t going my way around the greens.”

All that changed last weekend in Scottsdale, Ariz., when Hankamer shot a 4-under par 212 (71-68-73) to share medalist honors with two Michigan golfers at the Desert Mountain Intercollegiate.

Hankamer tied for medalist honors at the 2018 Desert Mountain Intercollegiate in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Hankamer tied for medalist honors at the 2018 Desert Mountain Intercollegiate in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Riley said Hankamer’s about-face had as much to do with his attitude and mental approach as his creative short game.

The tournament was played on the Jack Nicklaus-designed Desert Mountain Outlaw Course. The track is tight. Plus, the wind was howling. Hankamer kept the driver in the bag at times. Meanwhile, some of his teammates stubbornly blasted drivers where only cactus and lizards roam.

“Most of my team thought it was not a fair course,” said Riley. “But Dalton actually embraced the golf course. He used his imagination to score well.”

Hankamer attributed his excellent tournament to three factors: a switch in putters; Riley’s positive vibe; and the course playing similar to his home Texas track.

Regarding the putter, Hankamer switched to one with a softer face. “I could be more aggressive,” he said.

As for Riley’s influence, Hankamer offered, “He’s so positive on the course. I believe he rubbed off on me.”

Meanwhile, the Scottsdale course featured Bermuda grass like his old Mill Creek Golf Club in Salado, Texas. Plus, the wind tends to blow at his old course about an hour south of Austin.

“My home course is on a hill, it’s always windy and you learn to keep the ball low,” said Hankamer.

At 6-feet-2, 155 pounds, the Texan is long and lean.

“I need to gain weight,” he said.

He’s not the longest driver.

“He’s long enough,” said Riley. “His game’s with the putter and the wedges. He’s really good with the short irons and the putter.”

Hankamer comes from golf and athletic stock. His grandfather, Ed Moehling, played on the PGA Tour in the 1960s. His father played football at the Air Force Academy. His mother was a very good high school athlete.

While his parents didn’t play golf, the family grew up close enough to a course that they bought a cart. Hankamer and his brothers hopped in, rode to the nearby course and honed their games.

Older brother Dane plays at the Air Force Academy. Younger brother Dallas is in the ninth grade, already being recruited by major colleges and might be the best of the bunch.

Of Dallas’ game, Dalton said, “We’re really close. His short game is better than mine.”

As for Dalton, earning co-medalist honors has done wonders for his confidence. His next chance to display his skills comes at the Lamkin San Diego Classic on March 12-13. USD co-hosts the tournament with San Diego State at the San Diego Country Club in Chula Vista.

“It definitely makes me feel more comfortable and more belonging,” he said.

Equally important, it boosted his standing with Riley.

Said the USD head coach, “He’s pretty much written his name on the lineup card for the rest of the year.”



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