By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA – Richard James and Trey Valentine tied for 23rd place while the Bulls as a whole finished in ninth at the Gary Koch Invitational on Tuesday afternoon.
James started the tournament with a 69 and went 3 over in USF’s final tune-up before the Big East Championships. The junior was named Big East Golf Player of the Week on Monday and wrapped up the regular season with his fourth top-25 finish as a Bull.
"He is continuing to be a bright spot for our team as we're building towards the postseason," head coach Chris Malloy said. "He's showing he can be a guy that we can depend on each day."
Valentine opened the tournament with a 70 and carded a 73 in the final round to get to 3 over. It marks the sophomore’s sixth top-25 finish of the season.
"Trey is continuing to show improvements with his game. He's certainly trending in the right direction," Malloy said.
Chase Koepka cracked the top 50 with a 10-over performance that tied the freshman for 48th place. The highlight of Koepka’s tournament came Monday when he carded an even-par 72 in the second round at Old Memorial Golf Club.
Jeffrey Meltzer’s 1-under 71 was USF’s best score of the final round and elevated the freshman into a tie with Koepka in 48th place.
"It was great to see him really step up in a big situation. He's been close to doing that all year long and it should give him some confidence," Malloy said.
The Big East Championships are set for April 28-30 in Orlando and Malloy said the Bulls will be ready to compete for a title.
"When we made the schedule a year ago it was designed to have us playing against the best competition that we could in the country. That way we're battled tested heading into the conference championship," he said. "These guys have responded and we'll regroup for two weeks and jump back into competition."