By John Dever
The PGA of America
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – In search of a fifth consecutive championship, the Bethune-Cookman women are in a familiar spot, atop the Women's Division leaderboard at the 30th PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship presented by CastleOak Securities, which is being played at PGA Golf Club. The 54-hole, stroke-play Championship, which consists of six divisions (four team, two individual), concludes Sunday.
On the Men's Division I side, which was contested on PGA Golf Club's Wanamaker Course, Tennessee State University (295) holds a slim one-shot lead over Bethune-Cookman. Savannah State University is a distant third at 314.
Texas A&M-International University has never claimed a title at the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship, but Friday's 299 paces the 11-team Men's Division II grouping. That's good for a five-shot buffer over California State University-Dominguez Hills (304).
Texas A&M-International's lead is due in large part to Steven Martinez. The junior from Cibolo, Texas, fired a 2-under-par 70 that included six birdies, the last of which came on the difficult par-4 18th.
At 316, the University of Houston-Victoria leads the NAIA Division, which was played on the Ryder Course.
The Bethune-Cookman (295) women have already won a record four consecutive PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championships, and another title this weekend would be their 13th in the 19-year history of the Women's Division. At 303, Chicago State is the only program within shouting distance.
"Our women don't have an automatic conference bid to play for, so this is our season-ending event and it's important," said Head Golf Coach Loritz "Scooter" Clark, who has already amassed six PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championships (four women, two men) in nearly five years at the helm of Bethune-Cookman's men's and women's programs. "This year, we have three freshmen, a sophomore and a junior transfer, so this Championship is new to most of them. But they got a quick indoctrination and they're excited."
Two of Clark’s women, Shamiso Hatchard and Mackenzie Butzer, posted Friday’s low rounds at 73. Despite their youth, Clark’s women equaled the opening-round score posted by last year’s squad, which was led by three seniors.
Two-time defending Women’s Individual champion, Tiana Jones of the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, began her title defense with a 75 on the Ryder Course. Jones is representing UMES’s PGA Golf Management Program.
“It was actually a rough day, but I started great and that saved me” said Jones, who holds a five-shot advantage over Rachele Orme of Savannah State University and Cathleen Wong of Florida Gulf Coast University. “I’m very competitive and passionate about golf. This is something I hope to do as a career, and the idea of winning a PGA of America event like this, multiple times, means a lot to me.”
On the Men’s Individual side, three players are tied for the lead at 74: James Blackwell of Ball State University, Norman Blanco of UMES and James Lee of Rice University. Palm Beach Atlantic University’s Benjarong Murray is alone in fourth place after opening with a 76.
The PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship has elevated golf in minority colleges and universities by providing opportunities for players to compete in a national championship. In 2006, the PGA of America was granted complete ownership and management by the National Minority Collegiate Golf Scholarship Fund.
PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship
Friday, May 6, 2016
PGA Golf Club, Port St. Lucie, Florida
Men's Division I
Men's Division II