PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (May 10, 2019) — Seven consecutive titles apparently isn’t enough for the Bethune-Cookman women’s golf team at the 33rd PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship.
Led by Yukida Rodriguez’s 3-under 69 Friday, the Bethune-Cookman Women rocketed to a 24-shot lead at 5-over 293 after the first round on the Ryder Course at PGA Golf Club. The Lady Wildcats seem a cinch to earn a record eighth straight — and 16th overall — women’s Division I crown.
“The girls played really well,” Bethune-Cookman coach Danny Forshey. “Yudika has been leading us all year. She has a big future ahead of her. It’s exciting to see her keep playing well.”
The three-year winning streak of Bethune-Cookman’s men’s team, however, isn’t as certain. They found themselves tied for the lead with Florida A&M at 12-over 300, with Tennessee State just a shot back.
The Wildcats will be pushed to win their 11th overall title in the event formerly known as the National Minority Collegiate Championship. This is the most culturally diverse tournament in collegiate golf.
“Fortunately, we got off to a good start,” Florida A&M head coach Mike Rice said. “We know Bethune-Cookman is going to be tough. We’ve played with them all year long. We know what they’re all about.”
Rice got a consistent performance from his team, led by Prince Cunningham’s 74 and 75s by Ethan Mangum and Cameron Riley. The Rattlers would be leading without three of their players making double bogeys on the 18th hole of the Wanamaker Course.
“We’re in the hunt again, but we’ve got to carry it on to the end,” Rice said. “That’s what we’re focusing on.”
Bethune-Cookman was led by Timothius Tamardi’s 74. Forshay said the men’s team doesn’t feel the pressure of having dominated the event in recent years.
“We hold ourselves to a high standard, trying to be the best we can be,” he said. “It’s not about what happened last year. We know the history and what we’ve done here, but this is a different team.”
Rodriguez, a 21-year-old senior from Puerto Rico, birdied three of her first six holes. A bogey on the final hole didn’t bother her too much.
“To win this tournament would mean a lot,” Rodriguez said. “It’s one of my dreams. I would dedicate it to a lot of people who have supported me.”
In Division II, California State University-Dominguez Hills took a step in winning their fourth title in the last five years. They shot a 11-over 299 and lead Livingstone by seven shots.
In the NAIA, University of Houston-Victoria (301) is poised to win its fourth consecutive title after taking a 12-shot lead over Governor State.
Cameron Chhim of Mississippi State and Zhaidali Nathu of British Columbia share the Men's Independent Division lead, after shooting dueling one-under-par 71s. They are one stroke ahead of Logan Bryant of Florida A&M and Nabeel Khan of Conneticut, who shot even par 72s.
Linda Wang of St. John's shot a 71 to take a three-stroke lead over Christyn Carr of North Carolina A&T and Ana Ferreyra Heit of Bethune-Cookman in the Women's Independent Division.
Play resumes on the Wanamaker and Ryder Courses at PGA Golf Club with Saturday's second round and the final round on Sunday.