BRASELTON, Ga. – Winners of four team tournaments in the fall and owning six top 5 finishes on the year, the FGCU men’s golf team will look to capture an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament when it begins play at the Atlantic Sun Championship on Monday at the Chateau Elan Legends Course.
Coming in at No. 84 in the latest Golf Week rankings, FGCU is one of four teams in the field of 10 that are currently in the top 100. North Florida, who also has four team titles this year, is ranked No. 14 in the country, while defending A-Sun champ Kennesaw State is No. 42 and Mercer is right behind the Eagles at No. 88.
FGCU will sport a starting five of seniors Brandon Pena (Clewiston, Fla./Clewiston HS) and Alex Medinis (Fort Myers, Fla./Fort Myers HS), freshman Jack Hernandez (Fort Myers, Fla./Bishop Verot HS), junior Kyle English (Bloomington, Ill./University HS) and redshirt junior Patrick Williams (Toronto, Canada/Crescent School). The same five played in the Green and Blue’s last tournament of the season at FAU and helped set a program record with the team’s fourth straight under-par round to open the 54-hole event.
FGCU and East Tennessee State will be the first two teams to go off the first tee on Monday morning, owning start times from 8:00 – 8:36 a.m. Williams will be the first to tee off, followed by English, Hernandez, Medinis and Pena.
This week’s starting five has a combined 35 under-par rounds as individuals, helping FGCU shoot an average team score of 293.6 through 10 tournaments. The Eagles finished under-par in two tournaments and their current total of 10 par or better rounds is second all-time in single-season history.
Not only FGCU’s senior leaders, Pena and Medinis have a combined 18 rounds of experience at the A-Sun Championship. Both finished in the top 10 in 2010 when A-Sun’s 54-hole championship was held at the same Chateau Elan Legends Course. In 2010, Pena finished second overall thanks to a record-setting seven-under par 65 in round two, while Medinis tied for ninth after closing with back-to-back even-par 72s. FGCU finished second in 2010, its best-finish at the A-Sun Championship (5th-2009, T6th–2011).
Pena, who is No. 95 in the Golfstat Cup rankings, sports a team-low 72.2 stroke average and has turned in a counting score in 29 of 30 rounds played. An A-Sun All-Conference second team choice in 2011, Pena owns seven top 10s this season, highlighted by medalist honors at the Cobra-PUMA Invitational. A two-time A-Sun Player of the Week this season, Pena ranks in the top 30 in the nation in eagles (6/12th), greens in regulation (.720/22nd) and birdies (97/28th).
Medinis enters Monday’s playing arguably his best golf of the year, going under-par in four of his last six rounds. The Fort Myers product has a quartet of top 10s, a counting score in 28 of 30 rounds, 13 even-par or lower rounds and a 73.5 stroke average. Medinis finished third at the Mission Inn Fall Intercollegiate and the Stetson Invitational, both of which were team wins. Last year at the A-Sun Championship, Medinis was FGCU’s top finisher, tying for sixth overall with a three-round total of one-under 212.
The No. 3 spot and the 8:18 a.m. tee time belongs to Hernandez, who has had an instant impact to the FGCU lineup in his freshman season. Hernandez has turned in a counting score in all 27 rounds he’s participated in and is just two tournaments removed from taking medalist honors at the UCF Rio Pinar Invitation in which he shot a nine-under par 207 (72-68-67). The Fort Myers native is second on the team with a 73.3 stroke average and has five top 10s.
Like Hernandez, English will be making his first appearance in the A-Sun Championship on the strength of a breakout season. English posted a pair of top 5 finishes in the fall and contributed eight scores in the final three team titles. The Bloomington, Ill. product was in the starting five for eight tournaments and played as an individual once, producing a 74.3 stroke average.
Occupying the No. 5 spot, Williams has been strong in the spring with a 74.1 stroke average over three tournaments. Williams brings A-Sun Championship experience to the lineup and was a major contributor to the second place squad in 2010. A native of Toronto, Williams was a combined one-under in the final two rounds of the 2010 Championship at the Chateau Elan Legend Course.
Live in-progress scoring of the tournament can be found at www.GolfStat.com. A link to the live scoring can be found by going to the FGCU men’s golf schedule and clicking on the day’s event. Updates will also be available on twitter @fgcueagles.
Brandon Pena (Sr.)
Alex Medinis (Sr.)
Jack Hernandez (Fr.)
Kyle English (Jr.)
Patrick Williams (R-Jr.)
ATLANTIC SUN CHAMPIONSHIP FIELD (Golf Week Ranking)
Kennesaw State (42)
North Florida (14)
USC Upstate (148)