By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
The USF men's golf team is looking to rise among an extremely tough field in Bradenton on Sunday.
The Bulls are hosting the Callaway Collegiate Match Play Championship that begins Sunday at The Concession Golf Club after finishing 13th out of 18 teams at the Seminole Intercollegiate last weekend. USF will face fifth-seeded Chattanooga in the first round that features No. 7 Arkansas, No. 16 Duke, No. 25 Oklahoma State, Indiana (RV), Washington State, Iowa, East Carolina, Colorado, California, Arizona State and Kennesaw State.
"This is a very elite group of teams in a very prestigious event," USF head coach Chris Malloy said. "We're honored to be hosting this down here and it's exciting to see how our team bounces back. We've had an up and down spring to this point in time. Hopefully we can build some momentum and get some confidence here in these next couple of tournaments."
USF's most consistent player has been freshman Trey Valentine, who finished in a tie for second at the FSU event in Tallahassee. The Melbourne, Fla. native has posted five finishes in the top 15 with four coming in the top five.
"He's maturing by the week and that's what you look forward to as a head coach," Malloy said. "He is doing an extremely good job of doing what we've asked him to do over the last couple of months.
Valentine's stellar statistics rank him in a tie for 15th among all the Division I players in the nation. His average round is 70.93 and not far off No. 1 Eugene Wong's 69 for Oregon. Valentine has posted 62 birdies, just eight fewer than Wong.
"His approach has allowed him to fight through any tough times when he's out there on the golf course because he's got a good approach to it," Malloy said.
USF's finish at in Tallahassee marked the program's first outside of the 15 in five regular tournaments this season. Things won't be easy Sunday but Malloy is hopeful his Bulls can begin to turn the page quickly.
"I want to walk away from this event with a feeling that we're gaining a little more confidence in our own golf games," Malloy said. "More than anything else we need to get a little bit tougher and the guys are doing a good job of that. I have all the confidence in the world that they'll respond."
Live results can be viewed online at Golfstat.com or at the Callaway official website.