BURLINGTON, Iowa – The FGCU men’s golf team continued its season-opening tournament Monday in the second round at the competitive Golfweek Conference Challenge, improving its overall score from day one. All five Eagles shot between 72 and 76, led by sophomore Edward Figueroa’s 72.
The Green and Blue fired a 296 in the second round – an improvement over their 300 total during the opening round – and sit in 11th place out of 15 teams entering Tuesday’s final 18. FGCU is just eight shots out of the top 5 as the field is one of the most complete from top to bottom anywhere on the collegiate circuit. Oklahoma leads the tournament with a two-day total of 568, including a 278 on Monday, to sit 13 shots clear of second-place Houston. From Houston through FGCU, 10 teams are separated by just 15 shots.
Figueroa (Naples, Fla./St. John Neumann HS), who improved two shots from Sunday, began his day with a birdie on the par-5 10th, but quickly stumbled to +3 with a double bogey and two bogeys on 11, 12 and 13, respectively. However, the reigning Atlantic Sun Conference Freshman of the Year regrouped and played the rest of his front nine (the course’s back nine) at even par. The local product – who is tied for 20th overall – then birdied the par-5 2nd to get back to +2, which is where he stayed the rest of the round as he made par on each of the final seven holes.
The sophomore’s round was consistent with most of his teammates. Four of FGCU’s five players shot worse on their opening nine (the course’s back nine) than they did on the last nine (the course’s front nine). As a group, the quintet used 191 shots to play holes 10-18, compared with 181 shots for holes 1-9 (only the top four rounds count toward the team’s 296 score, hence the 372 total for the five players).
“We played better today, but we still struggled to put good, whole rounds together individually,” head coach Brett Jensen surmised. “We need to complete our rounds and not have errant shots cost us so much. We are close to putting together a really solid team score, and I think that will happen tomorrow. We are only eight shots out of a top-5 finish, and eight shots in college golf is nothing with 18 holes to go. We still have a great opportunity to finish with a really strong start to our season.”
Junior Blake Biggs (Peoria, Ill./Eastern Florida State College/Peoria Notre Dame HS) continued his strong start to the season with a 3-over 75 in the second round, carding two birdies. Coupled with an even-par 72 on Sunday, the transfer sits in a tie for 25th overall. Matt Cote (Palm Harbor, Fla./Palm Harbor University HS) shaped a two-over 74 out of the Spirit Hollow Golf Course, going out in 39 (back nine) and coming in by making all pars with the exception of one birdie on the front for a 35. Cote is tied for 36th with a two-day 149 total.
Junior Jack Hernandez (Fort Myers, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) improved his score by three shots from day one to day two, shooting a 76 on Monday by carding two birdies, two bogeys and two double bogeys. Sophomore Jake Sherwin (Fort Myers, Fla./Evangelical Christian HS) made the best improvement on the Eagles’ roster, and one of the best improvements in the entire field by taking six shots off his first-round score after turning in a 75 in the second round. Sherwin made nine bogeys or double bogeys in the first round, but limited that number to just four – and all were bogeys – while adding a pair of birdies.
FGCU’s troubles on the back nine of the course have been indicative of the whole field as statistically nine of the 13 most difficult holes through the first two rounds can be found there. Scoring was easier on Monday as the 75 golfers played the expansive 7,301-yard layout to a stroke average of 74.47, nearly a full shot better than 75.32 on Sunday. Playing a crucial role in the length of the course is the behemoth 607-yard 4th, which was more susceptible than its length would indicate as it yielded an eagle and 36 birdies as half of the field played the hole under par on Monday.
Tuesday’s final round gets underway at 8:30 a.m., and live scoring is available on Golfstat.com.
“Tomorrow will be our fourth round on the course, and we should be extremely comfortable with the layout at this point,” Jensen added of his Eagles, who played a practice round on Saturday. “We should be able to free it up tomorrow and put together a good round.”
FGCU Individual Standings
T21) Edward Figueroa (74-72: 146)
T25) Blake Biggs (72-75: 147)
T36) Matt Cote (75-74: 149)
T59) Jack Hernandez (79-76: 155)
63) Jake Sherwin (81-75: 156)
Team Standings (GolfWeek.com Rankings From Last Week Of 2012-13 Season)
1) #24 Oklahoma (290-278: 568)
2) #26 Houston (289-292: 581)
3) #5 New Mexico (290-292: 582)
4) #36 Virginia Tech (292-291: 583)
T5) #99 Jacksonville State (293-295: 588)
T5) #92 Winthrop (295-293: 588)
T5) #18 LSU (300-288: 588)
T5) #89 Central Arkansas (296-292: 588)
9) #59 Iowa (298-291: 589)
10) #63 Arizona (297-298: 595)
11) #141 FGCU (300-296: 596)
12) #47 Chattanooga (305-297: 602)
13) #61 Ball State (303-302: 605)
14) #116 Texas State (310-299: 609)
15) #106 Louisiana Tech (306-305: 611)