By John Dever
The PGA of America
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Both the men and women of Bethune-Cookman University hold second-round leads at the 30th PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship, which is being contested at PGA Golf Club. The 54-hole, stroke-play Championship, which consists of six divisions (four team, two individual), concludes Sunday.
While Bethune-Cookman's women (597) hold a sizable advantage – 22 shots – in the Women’s Division over second-place Chicago State University and seem destined to collect their record fifth consecutive PGA Minority Championship, Loritz “Scooter” Clark’s men are in a tussle with a group of upstarts from Tennessee State University in Men’s Division I.
Riding the coattails of Drew Owens, who fired a second-round 74 amid windy conditions at PGA Golf Club, Tennessee State (603) is only three strokes behind Bethune-Cookman (600).
Following a breezy, but comfortable, loop on the Wanamaker Course, Owens said the primary difference maker was “the wind. It’s a lot harder out there today than it was .”
After opening with a 71 on Friday, Owens enjoyed Saturday’s showdown with Joel Ramirez of Bethune-Cookman. The two freshmen posted identical two-day totals of 145 (71-74) and are tied for the low score among Men’s Division I.
“Playing with Joel is really cool, although he hits it about 30 yards further than I do” admitted Owens, who hails from Atlanta. “Keeping up with him is an honor. He’s talented, and just a freshman, too.”
Owens is equally as impressed and excited about his team’s ability to keep up with Bethune-Cookman, which sports seven team Minority Collegiate Championships on the men’s side, including three in the previous five years (2011, ’13, ’14).
“Bethune-Cookman has an amazing history in this Championship, having won it so many times,” said Owens. “So for us to be right up there with them feels great.”
Nine shots off the pace entering the second round, Fayetteville State University (609) surged into a one-shot lead over California State University Dominguez Hills (610) in the Division II Men’s competition. Opening-round leader Texas A&M International University slid to third at 617. Stellar efforts from senior Christopher Jackson (73) and freshman Isaiah Shaw (72) allowed the Broncos to catapult past three teams into Division II’s top spot.
For Fayetteville State Head Coach Anthony Carstarphen, today’s team effort on the Ryder Course was as pleasing as it was a long time coming.
“Today was satisfying. I think the kids are happy with themselves because they played good golf and were able to pick up their team captain (Jared Chinn). It was a team effort. It’s lovely, really. I am excited for the school, the program and the kids.”
The University of Houston-Victoria, at 629, leads the NAIA Division, which was played on the Wanamaker Course.
Tiana Jones of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, who is seeking her third consecutive Women’s Individual Invitational at the PGA Minority Championship, sits at 150 after posting a second straight 75. She leads Cathleen Wong (159) of Florida Gulf Coast University by nine shots. Jones is representing UMES’s PGA Golf Management Program this week on the Ryder Course.
The PGA of America and the LPGA will jointly award the woman with the lowest overall score in the 2016 PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship an exemption into the upcoming Symetra Tour’s Island Resort Championship in Harris, Michigan (June 24-26) or the Tullymore Classic in Canadian Lakes, Michigan, Michigan (July 1-3).
Another UMES golfer, Norman Blanco, leads the Men’s Individual Invitational, which is being contested on the Wanamaker Course. Blanco’s 74-76 (150) two-day total is good for a two-stroke lead over James Lee of Rice University and Benjarong Murray of Palm Beach Atlantic University.
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
Men's Division I
Men's Division II