By John Dever
The PGA of America
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Bethune-Cookman University swept the Men’s Division I and Women’s Team competitions at the 30th PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship, contested at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida, but not without the Wildcat men requiring an extra hole of work.
Although not mathematically impossible, a playoff in college golf is at least mathematically improbable. After three days and 216 holes, Bethune-Cookman and Tennessee State University were tied, having each taken 907 shots.
Fittingly, both programs reported to the first hole of the Wanamaker Course, where everything started on Friday morning.
Two groups and 25 minutes later, Bethune-Cookman emerged as Men’s Division I champions, having required only 20 shots to Tennessee State’s 21 on the 487-yard, par-5 opening hole.
Playoffs in collegiate team golf are “pretty rare,” according to Bethune-Cookman Head Golf Coach Loritz “Scooter” Clark. “Truthfully, at the end, I was just hoping for a playoff. I wanted an opportunity to see if we could continue it and pull it out. We were able to do just that. What was fun was, on the first green, during the playoff, seeing a different level of focus and determination from all our kids. They earned this. Tennessee State played very well and pushed us.”
Tennessee State’s bid was led by freshman Drew Owens, who was the Division I Men’s medalist at 221.
At 897, Bethune-Cookman’s women again asserted their dominance in the Women’s Team Division, claiming their record fifth consecutive title in the PGA Minority Collegiate Championship. The victory was also the Wildcats’ 13th in the 19-year history of the Women’s Division. A freshman, Shamiso Hatchard, set the tone for Bethune-Cookman’s 30-stroke victory over runner-up Chicago State University (927).
Hatchard’s three-day total of 222 made her the Women’s Team Division medalist and earned an exemption into an upcoming Symetra Tour event. She will choose from either Island Resort Championship in Harris, Michigan (June 24-26) or the Tullymore Classic in Canadian Lakes, Michigan, Michigan (July 1-3).
“Shamiso is so mild mannered and she has a poker face” said Clark of Hatchard, who hails from Milton Keynes, England. “This is actually fitting because she recently received the most improved student-athlete award on the women’s team. She’s been working very hard, probably harder in the classroom than on the golf course.”
Hatchard edged out Tiana Jones of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, although Jones’s three-day total of 223 made her the Women’s Individual Invitational Champion. Rachele Orme (241) of Savannah State University was the runner-up.
In Men’s Division II, Cal State University-Dominguez Hills took home a team title for the second time in as many years. Cal-State Dominguez Hills won by a whopping 17 shots over runner-up Texas A&M International after residing in second place after both the first and second rounds.
The Toros’ Sunday surge was engineered by three players, each of whom carded final rounds of 73 or better: Christopher Pham (71), Drew Dufresne (72) and Andrew Banuelos (73).
The University of Houston-Victoria, at 954, won the NAIA Division, which was played on the Wanamaker Course. The victory is the Jaguars’ second in the last three years. They were led by sophomore Cristian Esparza of Houston, who tallied a three-day total of 238 to take home NAIA medalist honors.
At 225, Siyan Liu of Palm Beach Atlantic University earned the first individual collegiate title of his career in the Men’s Individual Invitational.
Liu’s 71 on Sunday erased a four-shot deficit and resulted in a two-shot victory over Norman Blanco of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
“This win feels great, it’s my first in the United States,” said Liu, who is from Beijing, China. “I’ve been playing very well lately, and after finishing second last year, I wanted to finish the job.”
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.
30th PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship presented by CastleOak Securities
Men's Division I
T1. *Bethune-Cookman University--296-304-307--907;
T1. Tennessee State University--295-308-304--907;
3. Savannah State University--314-318-308--940;
4. North Carolina Central University--331-314-306--951;
5. Florida A&M University--322-325-312--959;
6. University of Maryland Eastern Shore--317-326-326--969;
7. Chicago State University--333-328-329--990;
Men's Division II
1. California State University Dominguez Hills--304-306-291--901;
2. Texas A&M International University--299-318-301--918;
3. Livingston College--305-314-305--924;
4. Fayetteville State University--308-301-330--939;
5. Lincoln University--319-321-305--945;
7. Benedict College--336-317-334--987;
8. Morehouse College--326-333-329--988;
9. Virginia Union University--342-340-336--1018;
10. Elizabeth City State University--358-343-333--1034;
Women's Team Division
1. Bethune-Cookman University--295-302-300--897;
2. Chicago State University--303-316-308--927;
3. Tennessee State University--332-335-321--988;
4. Hampton University--334-331-328--993;
5. Texas A&M International University--335-347-323--1005;
6. University of Houston-Victoria--359-348-352--1059;
1. University of Houston-Victoria--316-313-325--954;
Women's Individual Invitational
1. Tiana Jones, University of Maryland Eastern Shore 75-75-73--223
Men's Individual Invitational
1. Siyan Liu, Palm Beach Atlantic University 80-74-71--225