TAMPA – The Bulls are in the Big East title hunt and their freshmen are leading the way.
Chase Koepka carded a 2-under 70 while Jeffrey Meltzer went 1 under to help USF start off the conference tournament in second place Sunday afternoon. The Bulls are at 2 over and trail defending champion Notre Dame by two shots at the Reunion Resort in Orlando.
“Our freshmen have really stepped up and shown they’re not freshman anymore,” head coach Chris Malloy said.
Koepka posted six birdies and started in a tie for second place, just one shot away from David Tepe of Cincinnati. Koepka already has four top-10 finishes this season and he’s looking for his first individual title as a Bull.
“He’s doing the same thing he’s done all year long and has shown why he’s in contention for our conference’s player of the year,” Malloy said.
Meltzer is in a tie for sixth place after carding five birdies in his second straight roudn of 71 dating back to the Gary Koch Intercollegiate finale on April 9.
Trey Valentine shook off a double bogey on his first hole of the back nine to start in a tie for 10th place at even par. The sophomore has one title win and a pair of top-10 finishes to his credit this season.
“We feel that was a round that should have been a lot lower and we’ve got to eliminate mental mistakes,” Malloy said.
Devin Hernandez carded a 77 and Richard James turned in a 78 while Malloy was excited to see his squad show progress in the tournament that matters the most.
“We’re mostly a second- and third-round team,” Malloy said. “The first round we’ve struggled with all year, so they overcame that today and I look for them to finish strong.”