Strong First Day Gives FGCU 12-Stroke Lead at Cobra-PUMA Invitational
Sunday, September 30, 2012 | by Patrick Pierson (pierson_sid)
Self carded 10 birdies on the day and shot a one-under 71 in the first round. (Photo by Jim Dostie)
Self carded 10 birdies on the day and shot a one-under 71 in the first round. (Photo by Jim Dostie)

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Keyed by three players in the top 10 that posted a combined 20-under par score, the FGCU men’s golf team posted the two lowest rounds of the opening day of the Cobra-PUMA Invitational at Miromar Lakes Golf Club to sit in first place by 12 strokes after 36 holes.

The Green and Blue opened with a four-man 10-under par 278 in the morning round and capped the day with a solid eight-under 280 in the evening to own a 12-stroke lead. FGCU and second place Penn State (284-286/570) were the only two teams to break par in both rounds.

“This is the type of performance I know the guys are capable of and it’s great to see them get out there and play the way I know they can,” said head coach Brent Jensen, who has guided the Eagles to six tournament titles since 2010.

A pair of underclassmen sit atop the leaderboard for the Eagles, as freshman Edward Figueroa (Naples, Fla./St. John Neumann) and sophomore Jack Hernandez (Fort Myers, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) sit in second and third, respectively, in the overall standings. Seeing his first action of the year, junior Matt Cote (Palm Harbor, Fla./Palm Harbor University HS) is in a tie for seventh position, giving FGCU three players in the top 10, while no other team has more than one.

Over the 36-hole opening day, Figueroa made just two bogeys, while supplying 25 pars, eight birdies and the team’s lone eagle on the 530-yard, par 5 fifth hole in round two. Figueroa began the day with a two-under 70 and finished in style with a near-flawless six-under 66. The Naples, Fla. product’s second round 66 featured a 32 on the front nine, as he played the course’s opening nine holes at five-under for the day. Figueroa is second in the 81-player field in par 4 scoring (-2) and par 5 scoring (-6). He is the only player in the field at even-par or better in the par 3s, par 4s and par 5s.

Hernandez broke out of an early season slump in a big way with rounds of four-under 68 and three-under 69 to sit in sole possession of third place, just one stroke back of Figueroa and two back of tournament leader Nathan Kerns (68-67/135) of Marshall. Hernandez tied for the team lead with 11 birdies and is third in the field and tops on the squad in par 5 scoring at seven-under. He carded a 33 on both sides of the course, doing so on the back nine in the morning and on the front in the evening.

Cote made it three Eagles with two under-par rounds on the day, turning in a 69(-3)-70(-2)/139(-5) scorecard to sit just four strokes out of first. His first round three-under 69 feature eight birdies as he went on to make a team-high 11 on the day. Cote is one of just seven players under-par (-1) on the par 4s and is five-under on the par 5s.

Senior Jeremy Self (Tupelo, Miss./Tupelo HS) made it four under-par counting scores in the morning’s 278 with his one-under 71 that featured six birdies. Self followed up with a counting score of three-over 75 in the afternoon to finish the day in a tie for 23rd place. He leads the field in par 3 scoring at three-under, making four birdies.

Freshman Jake Sherwin (Fort Myers, Fla./Evangelical Christian HS) turned in scores of 76 and 78 to just miss contributing to the team score. Sherwin is among the leaders with 25 pars. Playing as an individual, sophomore Phillip Boljanovich (Naples, Fla./Barron Collier HS) opened the day with a one-under 71 and finished with a 76 to sit in a tie for 25th place. Senior Patrick Williams (Toronto, Canada/Crescent School) is also playing as an individual, shooting a 76 in the day’s second round.

As a team, FGCU leads the 15-team field in birdies (42), par 3 scoring (+1) and par 4 scoring (+11). The Eagles are also second in par 5 scoring at 20-under.

FGCU and the rest of the field will take the course for Monday’s final round at 8:45 a.m. with a shotgun start. The Eagles will play alongside Penn State, Bethune-Cookman and Wofford, going off holes 1-4.

2. Edward Figueroa – 70(-2)-66(-6)/136(-8)
3. Jack Hernandez – 68(-4)-69(-3)/137(-7)
T-7. Matt Cote – 69(-3)-70(-2)/139(-5)
T-23. Jeremy Self – 71(-1)-75/146
60. Jake Sherwin – 76-78/154

T-25. Phillip Boljanovich – 71(-1)-75/146
T-67. Patrick Williams – 80-76/156

1. FGCU – 278(-10)-280(-8)/558(-18)
2. Penn State – 284(-4)-286(-2)/570(-6)
3. Bethune-Cookman – 288(E)-284(-4)/572(-4)
T-4. FAU – 282(-6)-296/578
T-4. Wofford – 288(E)-290/578
6. Jacksonville – 283(-5)-296/579
7. Marshall – 289-294/583
8. Xavier – 287(-1)-297/584
9. Dayton – 290-295/585
10. Georgetown – 296-292/588
11. Loyola-Maryland – 298-293/591
T-12. William & Mary – 298-298/596
T-12. Arkansas State – 299-297/596
T-12. Northern Kentucky – 302-294/596
15. Saint Joseph’s – 303-327/630