MIROMAR LAKES, Fla. – Behind a slew of players who shot low scores during Sunday’s first and second round, the FGCU men’s golf collectively finished 8-under par to lead the Cobra-PUMA Invitational at Miromar Lakes Golf Club by 15 shots entering Monday’s final round.
FGCU is looking to claim the tournament title for the third straight year and is positioned to do so following rounds of 282 and 286 to finish with a 568 total. Junior Jack Hernandez (Fort Myers, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) shot 71-68 (139) and senior Matt Cote (Palm Harbor, Fla./Palm Harbor University HS) fired a 67-76 (143), but it was sophomore Edward Figueroa (Naples, Fla./St. John Neumann HS) who went the lowest of all 76 golfers in the field with rounds of 3-under 69 and 6-under 66 to lead by one overall with a 135.
Playing as an individual – meaning his scores do not count toward the Eagles’ team score – Figueroa shot the second-best score relative to par through the first 36 holes of a tournament in program history. The SWFL product’s -9 was just one shot behind Daniel Mazziotta’s -10 at the Rio Pinar Invitational during the 2010-11 season. Last year en route to medalist honors at the Cobra-PUMA, Figueroa was -8 (136) through 36 holes before shooting a course record and program-tying 64 in the final round.
The Green and Blue is 15 shots clear of second-place FAU (583) and 18 ahead of Bethune-Cookman (586). St. John’s – the only school in the 13-team field ranked ahead of FGCU in the Golfweek Rankings – is tied for 8th and 29 shots back of the Eagles with a 597.
“I’m extremely proud of our play today. Our captains, Matt and Jack, stepped up and played solid when we needed them to,” head coach Brent Jensen said. “I know Matt would have liked to have played better in the afternoon, but that 67 was huge for us, and Jack following his 71 up with a 68 was also extremely important.
“I’m also really proud of Edward’s individual performance. He had good memories of Miromar from last year so it was good to see him step up again as well,” Jensen concluded.
All five members of FGCU’s lineup are in the top-15 individually, with Hernandez sitting in solo fourth place and Cote tied for seventh. Freshman Jordan Miller (Bradenton, Fla./Bradenton Christian School) is in sole possession of 10th place following a pair of even-par rounds of 72 (144). Meanwhile, junior transfer Blake Biggs (Peoria, Ill./Eastern Florida State College/Peoria Notre Dame HS) and freshman Casper Howells (London, England/Bradfield College) are both tied for 14th with a 146 total. Biggs, who entered leading the Eagles in stroke average at 74.33, lowered that slightly on Sunday by shooting a 74 in the first round and 72 in the second. Howells, who was making his collegiate debut, did the exact opposite as he shot a 72 in the first round and 74 in the second.
“Jordan, Caper and Blake really grinded it out for the team’s counting scores as well,” Jensen added.
All 11 FGCU golfers on the roster competed on Sunday in the tournament right across the street from campus but hosted primarily by Xavier University. Junior Mike Andres (Fort Myers, Fla./Fort Myers HS) played his first round of the season and is also tied for 14th after matching Howells’ 72-74 (146). Jake Sherwin (Fort Myers, Fla./Evangelical Christian HS) shot a 76 in the opening round but improved in the second with a 74 and finished tied for 36th with an even 150 total.
Rounding out the FGCU individual scoring for the day were freshman Conrad Hahne (Ramsey, Minn. South Fort Myers HS) who is tied for 50th after rounds of 74-79 (153), classmate Keaton Jones (Kitchener, Ontario/St. Mary’s HS) who is tied for 58th with a 75-80 (155) and junior Phillip Boljanovich (Naples, Fla./FLVS) who finished 67th with rounds of 77 and 85 (162).
With an eagle each from Sherwin and Miller, FGCU broke the program’s single-season record for eagles with 14. Entering the tournament, the Green and Blue’s dozen eagles were the third-most in the nation.
Sherwin did much of his work on the par-5s as over the course of the two rounds he collectively shot -8 on such holes, tied for the best among all golfers in the field. Figueroa leads the field in par-4 scoring average, playing them at 3.85 (-3) – one of only two golfers to shoot under par on the par-4s for the day. Figueroa is also tied for the best score on par-3s, playing those at 3-under as well.
Miller, meanwhile, also did a lot of damage to the long holes as he shot -7 on the four par-5s over the two rounds – third-best in the field. Andres carded 27 pars, which is tied for the most among anyone in the field.
Final-round action gets underway Monday at 9 a.m. with a shotgun start as the Eagles will be looking to wrap up their first tournament title of the season. Live stats are not available, but fans can follow the action on Twitter @FGCU_MGolf.
1) Edward Figueroa (66-69: 135)
4) Jack Hernandez (71-68: 139)
T7) Matt Cote (67-76: 143)
10) Jordan Miller (72-72: 144)
T14) Blake Biggs (74-72: 146)
T14) Casper Howells (72-74: 146)
T14) Mike Andres (72-74: 146)
T36) Jake Sherwin (76-74: 150)
T50) Conrad Hahne (74-79: 153)
T58) Keaton Jones (75-80: 155)
67) Phillip Boljanovich (77-85: 162)
TOURNAMENT FIELD (Golfweek Rankings)
1) #99 FGCU (282-286: 568)
2) #178 FAU (291-292: 583)
3) #163 Bethune-Cookman (292-294: 586)
4) #240 Stetson (298-290: 588)
5) #190 Arkansas State (298-294: 594)
T6) #162 Xavier (305-288: 593)
T6) #232 Georgetown (302-291: 593)
T8) #235 Dayton (306-291: 597)
T8) #93 St. John’s (298-299: 597)
10) #245 Northern Kentucky (307-291: 598)
11) #254 Saint Joseph’s (308-291: 599)
12) #194 Ohio (302-298: 600)
13) #282 Savannah State (317-316: 633)