JACKSONVILLE – Matt Cote shot rounds of 74-69 (-1) and sits in a tie for second place as the senior led the FGCU men’s golf team to a fourth-place showing after 36 holes on a windy, wet day one of the North Florida/Georgia Southern Intercollegiate on Monday at Deerwood Country Club.
FGCU totaled a 593 over the first two rounds (296-297) and is just one shot behind third-place Mercer (592) and three back of second-place Southeastern Louisiana (590). Vanderbilt leads the 15-team field at +7 (583), 10 ahead of the Eagles’ pace.
Vanderbilt (No. 20), Southeastern Louisiana (No. 49) and Mercer (No. 38) are all in the top 50 of the Golfweek Rankings, with FGCU checking in at No. 93. The Eagles enter Tuesday’s final round with a better score than four teams ranked ahead of them nationally as they look to end their fall schedule on a high note.
Cote (Palm Harbor, Fla./Palm Harbor University HS) is positioned to do just that as after shooting a 2-over round in the morning he responded with a 3-under showing in the afternoon. Cote – who finished tied for 14th as a freshman at the same event but on a different course – is only one stroke behind Mercer’s Trey Rule for medalist honors.
The senior recorded nine birdies on the day – tied for the second most of anyone in the field. Cote took advantage of the par 5s by playing them at 4-under par, also tied for the second-lowest in the field. His +1 cumulative score on the par 4s, meanwhile, is tied for the best among all golfers.
“I’m really pleased with our team’s play today. The conditions made the course really tough as the wind was blowing 20-30 miles per hour and it was raining on and off most of the day,” head coach Brent Jensen commented. “I was really happy with Matt as one of our captains to put together a solid first round and really stepping up in the second round with the lowest second-round score in the field.”
Playing in his third tournament for the Green and Blue, freshman Jordan Miller (Bradenton, Fla./Bradenton Christian School) continued to post countable scores as he shaped a 1-over 73 out of the lengthy 7,223-yard layout in the first round before signing off on a 75 in the second round. The 148 total is good for second on the FGCU roster and is tied for 10th overall out of 82 competitors. Like Cote, Miller took advantage of the par 5s as he played them collectively at -4.
One week removed from posting the second-lowest 54-hole score in program history, Edward Figueroa (Naples, Fla./St. John Neumann HS) matched Miller’s opening-round 73 before shooting a 76 on the par-72 course in the second round. The 149 is a shot behind Miller and tied for 16th overall. Figueroa – who entered as the No. 1 player in Jensen’s lineup – joined Cote and a few others with the best par-4 scoring at +1.
Jack Hernandez (Fort Myers, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) shot rounds of 76-77 (153) to finish fourth in the lineup and in a tie for 43rd overall. Junior transfer Blake Biggs (Peoria, Ill./Eastern Florida State College/Peoria Notre Dame HS) – coming off a season-low 70 in the final round of the Cobra-PUMA Invitational last week – fought his way to rounds of 79 and 80 (159) and is tied for 79th overall.
“I was proud of the patience our guys showed and proud of the way they grinded most of the day,” Jensen said. “Edward and Jordan both stepped up in the first round as well. The scores are all fairly close, but we put ourselves in a really good position heading into our final round tomorrow with a chance to win.”
In 2010, FGCU was the team champion of the same event under the then-name Mizuno Intercollegiate. The victory was Jensen’s first of his career as FGCU’s three-round 844 was – at the time – good for the second-best 54-hole tournament score in program history. The invite was hosted by Georgia Southern but held at Savannah Quarters Country Club.
The Eagles return to the course tomorrow starting at 8:15 a.m. when Biggs tees off No. 1. All four of FGCU’s remaining members will also tee off the first, concluding with Cote at 8:51. Live scoring for the tournament will not be available, but results and a recap will be posted on FGCUAthletics.com.
T-2) Matt Cote (74-69: 143)
T-10) Jordan Miller (73-75: 148)
T-16) Edward Figueroa (73-76: 149)
T-43) Jack Hernandez (76-77: 153)
T-79) Blake Biggs (79-80: 159)
COMPLETE FIELD (GOLFWEEK RANKING)
1) #20 Vanderbilt (292-291: 583)
2) #49 Southeastern Louisiana (298-292: 590)
3) #38 Mercer (291-301: 592)
4) #93 FGCU (296-297: 593)
5) #71 Georgia Southern (297-297: 594)
6) #110 Tulsa (297-298: 595)
7) #84 Troy (294-304: 598)
8) #67 North Florida (305-296: 601)
9) #53 Georgia Regents University (formerly Augusta State) (298-307: 605)
10) #94 Southern Mississippi (298-309: 607)
11) #157 Francis Marion (300-308: 608)
12) #111 Furman (307-306: 613)
13) #197 Jacksonville (314-301: 615)
14) #194 Lipscomb (304-313: 617)
15) #137 Loyola (Md.) (313-310: 623)