By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
Trey Valentine represented the Bulls and the Big East in superb fashion this season.
USF's star freshman finished his collegiate debut off with a 2-over score in Saturday's final round of the NCAA Athens Regional that allowed him to hold his head up high in a tie for 15th among out of 75 players at the University of Georgia Golf Course. Valentine was just five shots away from advancing to the NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championship finals that will take place May 29 to June 3 at The Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
"He'll be better for the experience that he gained this week. It was absolutely priceless and I was proud of the way that he hung in there for a freshman," USF head coach Chris Malloy said.
Valentine was named Big East Freshman of the Year prior to regionals and played like a veteran throughout the tournament. The Melbourne, Fla., native carded a 69 in Thursday's first round and moved up to tie for eighth place at 2 under on Friday. He started Saturday's round with a bogey and finished up with three more, but did post three birdies to get to 4 over for the day.
"He had a great three days. I know it's not the way he wanted to finish up to today, but it was a great learning experience going forward for him," Malloy said. "He didn't get a whole lot going from the early to the middle part of his round and that was the difference today. There are a lot of things that he would have liked to get back and change if he could, however, we can say that about every round of golf."
Valentine can now look back on a freshman season that he and the rest of the USF men's golf program certainly won't forget for a long time. He became USF's top player this season with five top-10 finishes, six top-25 finishes and added a seventh on his own in Athens, Ga.
"No one can question the future is bright for the program. If we can have guys come in here and do what Trey has done, trying to improve each week, we're going to be just fine," Malloy said. "Trey has done a good job of buying into the things we asked him to do and his self-evaluation is so much better than most freshmen that you get."