PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Three powerhouse schools — the women at Bethune-Cookman University in Division I; the men at California State-Dominguez Hills in Division II; and the men at Houston-Victoria in NAIA will enter Sunday's final round of the 33rd PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship on the verge of setting history, yet again.
Bethune-Cookman is on the cusp of an eight straight title, while California State-Dominguez Hills and Houston-Victoria are vying for four-in-a-row.
Men's Division I is a bit more of a mystery, as three teams will have to complete their rain-delayed second round on Sunday morning. Bethune-Cookman, Florida A&M and Tennessee State will play their final three holes before moving to the closing stanza. Bethune-Cookman currently holds a five-stroke lead over FAMU, with Tennessee State another stroke back.
Andrew Fernandes said one of his goals this year was to help California State University-Dominguez Hills defend its PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship.
Because of an amazing turnaround by Fernandes on Saturday at PGA Golf Club, the Toros have a great opportunity to repeat.
Fernandes played the last four holes of the Wanamaker Course at 4-under, highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 16th, to help the Toros stretch their lead to 11 shots over Lincoln University.
PARTICIPANTS: See the complete 2019 field list
A day ago, Fernandes had played the same four holes in 4-over. His 70 was a 14-shot improvement over Friday’s 84.
“I have a great support group of coaches and family and friends who reached out to me yesterday,” Fernandes said. “One of our captains (William Yang) stayed with me after the round as I worked on my putting. He didn’t have to do that.
“I just stayed patient today. I had a lot of lip outs early in the round, but I knew sooner or later, the putts would start falling. We finished a lot stronger today, to be sure, and my coach was with me every step of the way.”
Toros coach Ron Eastman said his team wasn’t playing its best this week, but Fernandes’ finish set the tone for a team trying to win this title for the fourth time in the last five years. CSU-Dominguez Hills is at 23-over 599; Lincoln (296) is at 610.
“Andrew struggled yesterday, but that 70 helped us a lot,” Eastman said. “I like where we’re at, but we’re never confident until we walk down 18.”
In the NAIA, University of Houston-Victoria (302-603) has a 26-shot lead over Governor State.
In the Men’s Independent Division, Cameron Chhim of Mississippi State shot a 73-144 to take a one-shot lead over Zhaidali Nathu (73) of British Columbia and Logan Bryant (74) of Florida A&M.
Linda Wang of St. John's shot another 71 to take a seven-stroke lead over Christyn Carr of North Carolina A&T and Ana Ferreyra Heit of Bethune-Cookman in the Women's Independent Division.
The Bethune-Cookman Women’s team stretched its lead to 43 shots over Texas A&M-Kingsville on the Ryder Course.
Yudika Rodriguez of Bethune-Cookman fired a 67 and at 8-under has a seven-shot lead over teammate Caitlyn Evans-Brand in the individual competition. Rosario Falzone of Tennessee State was even through 15 holes and led Paul San of Alabama A&M by three shots at 3-under.
The PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship, formerly known as the Minority Collegiate Championship, is the most culturally diverse tournament in the sport.
Fernandes and his comeback showed that while the individual scores are what count, it’s still very much a team competition. And a valuable one, at that.
“This is such a world-class event,” Fernandes said. “It has so much stature behind it with the PGA of America. It’s very big for golf and what they’re trying to do for inclusion and diversity.”
Play was stopped twice Saturday because of storms. Play will resume at 7:30 a.m. and the final round will be conducted on Sunday, as well.
NEWS & NOTES:
Savannah State's Alyssa Clements; Fayetteville State's Logan Sessoms Capture Long Drive Titles
The PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship staged a long-drive event during Thursday’s practice round, crowning Alyssa Clements, of Dayton, Ohio, a Sophomore at Savannah State University, and Logan Sessoms, a Freshman at Fayetteville (N.C.) State University, the Women’s and Men’s Long Drive winners, with drives of 277 yards and 355 yards, respectively.
World Long Drive Champions Maurice Allen, Phillis Meti Put on a Show for the Student-Athletes
Men’s and Women’s World Long Drive Champions Maurice Allen and Phillis Meti, along with emcee Jonathan Coachman of WWE, ESPN and Madden video game fame, staged an entertaining long-driving exhibition to kick off the 33rd PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship. With balls flying mind-boggling distances–Allen even used a putter to hit a drive 277 yards off the tee—students “oohed” and “aahed” at the incredible sight and sound of the sheer force of Allen’s and Meti’s swings.
The Future of Golf
A total of 189 student-athletes from 41 colleges and universities competing in this weekend’s PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship took part in the annual PGA WORKS Career Expo, at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida, Thursday evening. The students met with representatives of companies from across the golf industry, as well as with insurance and financial services company AIG, which recently announced a major donation to PGA REACH in support of the Championship, the most culturally significant event in collegiate golf. Student-athletes met face-to-face with 17 potential employers including: AIG, Advocates Pro Tour, AJGA, Billy Casper Golf, Buffalo.Agency, FootJoy, GolfTec, LPGA, Octagon, PGA of America, PGA Golf Club, PGA Tour, TaylorMade, Titleist, TopGolf, Troon and the USGA. The students were also treated to a personal finance seminar by AIG, which focused on investing for their future, saving for a rainy day, maintaining good credit and managing debt properly.