PALM CITY, Fla., MARCH 19, 2017 – Rigel Fernandes is back in the title hunt at the Valspar Collegiate Championship.
Battling wind gusts throughout the afternoon, Fernandes fired an even-par 71 to start the three-day tournament in a tie for ninth place out of 78 competitors. The senior from Bradenton, Fla., is three shots away from leader Cory Churchman of North Texas, who was one of only eight players that turned in under-par scores at The Floridian’s challenging 7,114-yard course.
Fernandes, who tied for sixth at the event in 2015, helped USF start in a tie for seventh with South Carolina at 16-over. No. 14 Texas A&M (+4) has a three-shot lead on No. 10 Wake Forest and is followed in the top five by North Texas (+8), No. 18 Texas (+11) and host Houston (+11).
Junior Claudio Correa is a shot outside the top 25 after carding a 4-over 75 that included three birdies. Junior Cristian DiMarco (T39, +5) and freshman Kyle Flexsenhar (T50, +7) also collected three birdies apiece to finish behind Fernandes’ team lead of four.
Head coach Steve Bradley on USF’s performance during Sunday’s opening round:
“Rigel played really solid today. The course played very tough and the wind blew hard. The guys battled hard and I’m expecting us to play better the next couple of days.”
- Rigel Fernandes was one of only 10 players to shoot even par or better in Sunday’s windy conditions. Tied for ninth, Fernandes is ahead of eight players nationally ranked in the top 50.
- Fernandes shot par of better on 14 holes with four birdies, just one away from the tournament lead.
- This year’s event features a loaded field that includes six top-25 programs. USF started the tournament two shots ahead of No. 3 Oklahoma State and three ahead of No. 23 Arkansas.
Freshman Andre Leveque (Windermere, Fla.) will lead off USF’s second round on the 10th hole Monday at 8:51 a.m. Follow the action in progress at the official Golfstat.com scoring page HERE.
USF men’s golf returns four of seven players from the 2015-16 team that made program history with a return trip to the NCAA Championship. The Bulls have won the past two American Athletic Conference Championships in head coach Steve Bradley’s first two seasons with the program. Follow @USFMGolf on Twitter for the latest information concerning the program.