PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Ferris State University of Big Rapids, Mich., played a little defense coming off a 14-stroke first-round lead to clinch the school’s first-ever National Championship in Wednesday’s final round of the 12th PGA Jones Cup presented by High Definition Golf.
The 36-hole event at PGA Golf Club is conducted by The PGA of America. The PGA Jones Cup features 19 schools in the PGA Golf Management University program, including the top five players from each school.
Paced by medalist Chad Sandee of Sheboygan, Wis., the Bulldogs held off runner-up Florida State University by 10 strokes and third-place finisher Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Meyers by 12. With the weather much improved over Tuesday’s 25-mph wind gusts, the players still found the wind to be unpredictable at times. Featuring a team of five seniors, Ferris State finished the two rounds with a 13-over-par 589 total.
Defending Champion Campbell University finished seventh, 25 shots off the lead.
Behind Sandee, who finished 1-under-par 143 (70-73), four players tied for second in the individual competition — Ferris State’s Matthew Sheperd of Oxford, Mich.; Florida State’s Andrew Story of nearby West Palm Beach, Fla.; Florida State's Chris Zumpano of Tampa; and Nebraska’s Andrew Moores of Omaha, Neb. The group finished four strokes back of Sandee.
Ferris State rallied around Sandee, who drilled a 5-iron shot 217 yards to within two feet of the pin on the 505-yard par-5 16th hole. The ensuing eagle putt sparked the team.
“It feels really good to win,” Sandee said. “The eagle was the big turning point. I was grinding it out, and it was a confidence booster.”
Ian Ziska, PGA head professional at Ferris State, celebrated the victory with his players. “To come home with the trophy is a big deal, a huge deal really to these kids. It was more of a grind today. Anytime you play with a big lead, in the back of your mind, you’re guarded. Playing prevent defense is the best way to describe it.”
University of Central Oklahoma senior Justin Watkins, the 2012 PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship men's independent champion, became the first player to compete in the PGA Jones Cup four consecutive times. Watkins shot 148 for the Championship, tying for fifth place in the individual competition. Central Oklahoma came in fifth in the team event as well.
“It’s a privilege to represent my school and program,” said Watkins. “You get the opportunity to learn things here that golf presents.”
The PGA Jones Cup presented by High Definition Golf brings together teams from 15 states. Named for the first PGA Golf Management University Program Director at Mississippi State University, Dr. S. Roland Jones, who held the position from 1985 until his passing in 1997, the tournament serves as a stepping stone to future PGA of America events, such as the PGA Professional National Championship.
The PGA Jones Cup serves to provide a platform where participants can display professionalism, integrity, character and camaraderie; all characteristics Dr. Jones instilled in PGA Golf Management students.
Participating universities in the PGA Jones Cup presented by High Definition Golf are schools accredited by The PGA of America to offer the four-and-one half to five-year PGA Golf Management University Program for aspiring PGA Professionals. The college curriculum provides extensive classroom studies, internship experience and player development, and provides students the opportunity to acquire knowledge and skills to succeed in the golf industry as a PGA Professional.
Students in the PGA Golf Management University Program study a combination of golf and business-related subjects, as well as serve a minimum of 16 months in on-course internships within the golf industry.