Pena fires back-to-back under-par rounds to lead field of 70
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Led by junior Brandon Pena’s (Clewiston, Fla./Clewiston HS) two-under par 140 (69-71) over the first two rounds of the Renaissance Invitational on Sunday, the FGCU men’s golf team holds a two-stroke lead after the first day of the 12-team tournament at The Club at Renaissance in Fort Myers.
The Eagles enter Monday’s final round two strokes ahead of host Xavier (287-288/575), who entered the weekend No. 32 in the recent Golfstat rankings. The Blue and Green fired the best round of the day in the opening 18 holes with a three-under par 285. FGCU followed with an even par 288 in the second round to finish at 573.
“I’m proud of the way the guys played today, especially the way we started,” said first-year head coach Brent Jensen. “We didn’t close out the second round as well as we would have liked, but we’re in the position that every team wants to be in heading into the final round. Tomorrow will be a big test and I’m looking forward to seeing how we respond.”
Ball State (580), who is ranked No. 37 by Golfstat, sits five strokes back in third place, while Dayton (582) and Miami of Ohio (584) round out the top five. The top six teams all broke 300 in each of their two rounds.
All but one of the 12 teams played the course’s four par 5s at under par, led by FGCU’s impressive combined 28-under par total that was evenly split at 14-under par in each round. The Eagles also ranked third in the field in par 3 (+6) and par 4 (+26) scoring, third in pars (108), fourth in birdies (32) and tied for first with three eagles.
Pena turned a bogey-free, three-under par 69 on the 7,063-yard course in the morning round and followed with a one-under 71 in the afternoon. Sitting a stroke ahead of Curtis Loop of Georgetown and Xavier’s Sebastian McLean and Peter O’Neill, Pena went the first 21 holes of the day without making a bogey. The Clewiston, Fla. product finished the day with 24 pars, seven birdies and one eagle en route to his two-round 140. Like his teammates, Pena did most of his damage on the par 5s, playing them at six-under par. Pena’s back-to-back under-par rounds marked the first time in his career that he’s accomplished the feat.
Senior co-captain Dan Mazziotta (Fort Myers, Fla./Cypress Lake HS) and junior Alex Medinis (Fort Myers, Fla./Fort Myers HS) each finished the day at even-par 144 to sit in a four-way tie for 11th place. Fresh off a top five finish last weekend in Chicago, Mazziotta’s day began with a one-under par 71 followed by a one-over 73. Like Pena, Mazziotta played the par 5s at six-under par and had six birdies. Medinis produced back-to-back even-par 72s, carding 24 pars on the afternoon. The local Fort Myers native played the front nine at one-under par for the afternoon.
Making his second straight start, senior Gyles Robin’s (Jersey, England/De La Salle College) pair of one-over par 73s put him in a six-way tie for 17th position, giving the Eagles four players in the top 20. Robin leads the field in par 5 scoring at an impressive eight-under par. During his eight trips down the course’s par 5s, Robin dialed-up six birdies, one eagle and one par. Junior Jeremy Self (Tupelo, Miss./Tupelo HS) rebounded from an opening round 78 with an even-par 72 to contribute to the team score of 288 in the afternoon. Self’s strong second round moved him up 16 spots into a tie for 40th.
FGCU also received solid showings from a group of players who entered the tournament as individuals and don’t count towards the team score. Junior Patrick Williams (Toronto, Canada/Crescent School) turned in a bogey-free, three-under par 69 of his own in the first round and followed up with a one-over par 73 to sit in a four-way tie for fifth place. Williams went the first 24 holes without a bogey and finished the day with 25 pars and seven birdies.
Making his first collegiate appearance, freshman Matt Cote (Palm Harbor, Fla./Palm Harbor University HS), moved into a tie for 17th place (76-70/146) with a two-under par 70 in the second round. Cote’s final round featured 13 pars, four birdies and a double-bogey. Senior co-captian Zach Robinson (Pensacola, Fla./Booker T. Washington HS) turned in back-to-back two-over par 74s for a solid 148. Sitting in a tie for 26th place, Robinson led the team and ranked second in the field of 70 players with 26 pars. Junior Niklas Ahola was the final individual performer for the Eagles, carding rounds of 80-78/158.
The Eagles will begin on holes 1-5 during Monday’s final round that starts at 8 a.m. at The Club at Renaissance. FGCU will play alongside the top four teams; Xavier, Ball State and Dayton.
FGCU COUNTING SCORES
1. Brandon Pena – 69(-3)-71(-1)/140(-4)
T-11. Dan Mazziotta – 71(-1)-73/144(E)
T-11. Alex Medinis – 72(E)-72(E)/144
T-17. Gyles Robin – 73-73/146
T-40. Jeremy Self – 78-72(E)/150
FGCU INDIVIDUAL SCORES
T-5. Patrick Williams – 69(-3)-73/142(-2)
T-17. Matt Cote – 76-70(-2)/146
T-26. Zach Robinson – 74-74/148
T-63. Niklas Ahola – 80-78/158