PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.– Bethune-Cookman University is poised to extend a lofty women’s golf record, while Alabama State University’s men’s team surged to write its own historic chapter Saturday in the 29th PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship.
Three-time defending women’s champion Bethune-Cookman built a 24-stroke advantage over the University of Houston-Victoria heading into Sunday’s finale of the 54-hole Championship. The Wildcats have a 589 total and are in search of a 12th title.
The 2015 edition of the Championship features 220 players representing 50 colleges and universities, 12 countries and two U.S. territories.
Alabama State University’s men’s team seeks its first national crown with a quintet composed of players from Canada, Trinidad-Tobago, Puerto Rico and Georgia. The Hornets posted a 592 total, surging past first-round leader Florida A&M (606). The University of the Incarnate Word is third at 613, followed by Tennessee State (613); and two-time defending champion Bethune-Cookman University (617).
Alabama State junior Branson Ferrier, who fired a 66 in the opening round, overcame three bogeys in his first round holes of the back nine of the Wanamaker Course Saturday. He eagled the par-5 16th holes on his way to a 2-under-par 70.
“I got off to a good start with a birdie on the first hole, and held it steady through the front nine and birdies on Nos. 7 and 8 really got me in the direction,” said Ferrier, a native of Barrie, Ontario, Canada. “I kind of stumbled on the back nine, and didn’t know what was happening. I got lucky on No. 16, however, hitting another 7-iron into the green. I made a 35-footer uphill for eagle and got lucky on No. 18 with a chip off a hill to 10 feet, where I made that for par.”
Bethune-Cookman’s women arrived at PGA Golf Club on a mission to extend its PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship win streak for a remarkable fourth-straight year.
“They did well, everyone is contributing,” said Wildcats Coach and PGA Professional Loritz “Scooter” Clark. “We hope to keep it going just one more day. For them to be able to win would be a huge accomplishment. It would be historical. I am so proud of all of them, especially my three seniors.”
Jennifer Hide’s second round 1-under-par 71 led the Wildcats. All five Bethune-Cookman players—Patrizia Trevisan 74—147; Andrea Orozco 75—148; Mackenzie Butzer 78—150; Alice Plumb 74—151; and Hide 71—149 are also within six strokes of the overall women’s medalist leader, Heather Shake of Houston-Victoria.
“They look at it as team first, and if anything individual, then that’s great, too,” added Clark.
Shake followed her opening round 67 by struggling to a 78, and a 145 total, a stroke better than Texas Southern’s Kassandra Rivera 73—146.
Delaware State’s Elaine Peete, the daughter of the late PGA Tour legend Calvin Peete is just two strokes off the medalist pace, as is Cheryl Chua of Hampton University. Peete passed away last week.
Chua’s sister, Grace 75—148 of the University of Delaware, leads the separate Women’s Individual Invitational. She is two strokes ahead of Cathleen Wong 78—150 and three strokes ahead of defending champion Tiana Jones, a PGA Golf Management University Program student at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
A third Chua sibling, Cherie, is also in the field, competing for Texas Southern.
The PGA of America and the LPGA will jointly award the woman with the lowest overall score in the 2015 PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship an exemption into the Symetra Tour’s Mission Health Wellness Classic, May 15-17, at the Country Club of Asheville in North Carolina.
In Men’s Division II, no school in the entire Championship has traveled further (more than 2,600 miles) to PGA Golf Club than Cal State Dominguez Hills of Carson, California. Paced by Senior Ryan Saldana’s second round 73—151, the Toros hold a two-shot advantage over Texas A&M International.
Yet, the second-place Dustdevils played four strokes better on the day to close the gap, led by Steven Martinez’s one-under-par 71, the lowest round in the Division.
“We really enjoy this tournament, it’s the best event we play all year,” said Cal State Dominguez Hills Head Golf Coach Ronald Eastman, whose team includes four seniors and one junior. “Still, I think we left a lot of shots on the golf course in the first two rounds.”
The University of Texas at Brownsville expanded its lead to 31 strokes in the NAIA Division over University of Houston-Victoria. The UTB Ocelots stand at 4-over-par (285-295-580), led by a pair of 73s Saturday from senior Saad Milan and freshman Angel Aguirre, both of Torreon Coahuila, Mexico.
“I’m so impressed with the conditions, even when you hit a bad shot, you have a chance for an up and down,” said Milan. “We know we have a big advantage, but we still need to play smart tomorrow, because we know one bad hole could ruin the entire round.”
Foiled in his plans for an Individual Men’s title last year, when he stumbled in the final round to third, LeMoyne-Owen College senior Dominique Worthen, needed only 27 putts to post a 67 and a two-stroke lead at 143.
“I got the putter rolling. Every time I needed a putt, I made it,” said Worthen, a native of Flint, Michigan. “My only stumble was the par-5 16th hole, where I got a little aggressive, hitting a 5-iron over the green and not getting up and down.” He had six birdies and a bogey.
Siyan Liu, a freshman at Palm Beach Atlantic University and a native of Beijing, China, was a 145 after a 69, which was his best competitive round in the U.S.
In the Division II men’s competition, Cal State University Dominguez Hills leads at 610, followed Texas A&M International University at 612, and Livingstone College is third at 628.
Siyan Liu, a freshman at Palm Beach Atlantic University and a native of Beijing, China, was at 145 after a 69, which was his best competitive round in the U.S.