PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – For the second consecutive year, both the men’s and women’s teams from Bethune-Cookman University claimed titles in a thrilling final round Sunday at the 28th PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship.
Bethune-Cookman won its seventh title in the Division I Men's competition, while in the Women’s Division, Bethune-Cookman claimed its Championship-record 11th title.
2014 PGA MINORITY COLLEGIATE GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP
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This marks the fourth time that the men and women from Bethune-Cookman have won both titles in the same year.
The 54-hole Championship featured nearly 200 players representing more than 40 colleges and universities competing at PGA Golf Club.
The Bethune-Cookman women's team, which was tied with Chicago State University heading into the final round, used a 4-over-par 292 total to win the division by six strokes. Chicago State was looking for its first title in school history. The University of Houston-Victoria finished third.
Bethune-Cookman’s team total improved in each of the three rounds on the Ryder Course. PGA Professional Scooter Clark, the head men’s and women’s coach, was pleased by the play of both teams.
“This Championship is always tight and hard fought, with the Championship really starting on the back nine on Sunday,” said Clark. “The women’s team came together well this weekend and I’m really proud of how both teams performed. It’s incredibly satisfying as a coach.”
Heather Shake of the University of Houston-Victoria shot three consecutive rounds of 74 to win medalist honors in the Women’s Team Division.
In the Division I Men’s competition held on the Wanamaker Course, Bethune-Cookman withstood a final-round charge by Florida A&M University, which entered the round in fourth place, to win the division by eight strokes. Alabama State University finished third, 11 strokes back of Bethune-Cookman.
The Bethune-Cookman Wildcats were led by senior Rafael Abad, who closed with a 1-under-par 71 for a 218 total.
“It was very close at the end, but our team pulled it out,” said Abad. “This is the best year of golf I’ve ever had and it feels great to win as a team.”
Both Bethune-Cookman and Alabama State will be competing in NCAA regionals next week.
Dominick Vennari of Florida A&M University won medalist honors in the Men’s Division I competition, closing with a 69 for a 215 total.
In Division II, Lincoln University from Jefferson City, Missouri, took home its sixth overall title by a single stroke over Texas A&M International University. California State University–Dominguez Hills finished third.
Gary Natal of Texas A&M International University won medalist honors in the division, defeating Steven Mallow of Lincoln University on the first playoff hole.
The Women's Individual Invitational ended in thrilling fashion, with Tiana Jones of South Carolina State University chipping in for birdie on the 54th hole to win by a stroke over 36-hole leader Cheryl Chua, also from South Carolina State.
Kalea Heu of Utah Valley University finished third, five strokes back of Jones. Competing in her final PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship, Jones closed with a 2-under-par 70 and three-day total of 224.
“It was a rough start for me today. I was just trying to make par most of the day,” said Jones. “But I gained a lot of confidence as the round unfolded. It was nice to see all of my hard work and practice paid off in the end. I’m glad I didn’t miss my graduation for nothing.”
In the Men's Individual Invitational, defending champion Robert Grant of Alabama State University rallied from four strokes back in the final round to defeat 2012 Champion Justin Watkins from the University of Central Oklahoma by one stroke.
First-rounder leader Dominique Worthen of LeMoyne-Owen College finished third.
“It’s an incredible honor to win this Championship for a second time,” said Watkins. “It was a battle all day and I feel fortunate to have won.”
In the Men’s NAIA Division, the University of Houston-Victoria won its first team title over Edward Waters College of Jacksonville, Florida.
Steve Jones from the University of Houston-Victoria won medalist honors, closing with a 70 for a 218 total.
The PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship, which originated in November 1986 following the Jackson State University Golf Tournament, has elevated golf in minority colleges and universities by providing opportunities to more players to compete in a national championship.
In 2006, the PGA of America was granted complete ownership and management of the championship by the National Minority Collegiate Golf Scholarship Fund.