The college season really heated up this week, highlighted by a meeting of some of the top men’s teams in the country for the Valspar Collegiate at The Floridian National Golf Club in Palm City, Fla.
It was Wake Forest, No. 10 in the latest Golfstat rankings, that held on for the victory as the Demon Deacons posted a 4-over-par 288 in Tuesday’s final round for a 7-over 859 total that gave them a one-shot edge over hard-charging Georgia Tech.
Wake Forest might very well have won the tournament with its 7-over 291 in Sunday’s opening round as fierce March winds in Florida made for some tough conditions over the 7,114-yard, par-71 Floridian layout. The Demon Deacons added a 4-under 280 in the middle round before finishing up with 288 to claim their second straight team win. Wake Forest won the weather-shortened General Hackler Championship in Myrtle Beach, S.C. earlier this month.
Georgia Tech, which rose from 27th to 22nd in the Golfstat rankings in the aftermath of the Valspar, made up 10 shots on Wake Forest in the final round with a 6-under 278, but it left the Yellow Jackets one shot short at 8-over 860.
No. 2 Oklahoma State also closed strong with a 5-under 279 to finish another shot back in third at 9-over 861. Nobody was hotter than No. 18 Texas in the final round as the Longhorns fired an 8-under 276 and ended up in a tie for fourth with No. 8 LSU at 12-over 864. The Tigers weren’t bad in that final round either, carding a 5-under 279.
No. 16 Texas A&M finished sixth in the 14-team field at 15-over 867 after a final round of even-par 284.
Wake Forest was led by a pair of top-4 finishes as Will Zalatoris, a junior from Plano, Texas, finished in a tie for second at 1-under 212 and Eric Bae, a freshman from Pinehurst, N.C., was part of a six-way logjam tied for fourth at even-par 213. Zalatoris sandwiched a pair of 1-under 70s around a 72 in the middle round while Bae offset 73s in the first and third rounds with a sizzling 4-under 67 in the middle round.
Also for the Demon Deacons, Paul McBride, a junior from Ireland, finished in a tie for 20th at 4-over 218 after a final-round 74, Cameron Young, a sophomore from Scarborough, N.Y., finished tied for 25th at 5-over 219 after a final-round 71 and Lee Detmer, a sophomore from Washington, D.C., finished tied for 46th at 223 after a final-round 77.
Sophomore Kyle Sterbinsky, the former Peddie School standout who had an outstanding freshman season, was not in the Wake Forest lineup at the Valspar, although he was in the lineup for the General Hackler victory. It’s not the easiest lineup to crack.
While Georgia Tech came up just short in the team chase, the Yellow Jackets did have the individual champion in Tyler Strafaci, a freshman from Davie, Fla. After opening with a 2-over 73, again in some tough conditions, Strafaci added a pair of 2-under 69s to take individual honors at 2-under 211.
Joining Wake Forest’s Zalatoris in the tie for second at 1-under 212 was South Carolina’s Scott Stevens, a sophomore from Chattanooga, Tenn. who matched par in the final round with a 71.
Texas’ final-round surge was sparked by Doug Ghim, a junior from Arlington Heights, Ill. Ghim had eight birdies in a sizzling 6-under 65 that enabled him to join Wake Forest’s Bae in the group tied for fourth at even-par 213.
Also finishing at even-par 213 were North Texas’ Thomas Rosenmueller, a sophomore from Germany who had a final-round 73, Oklahoma State’s Kristoffer Ventura, a junior from Norway who had a final-round 72, LSU’s Sam Burns, a sophomore from Shreveport, La. who had a final-round 72, and South Florida’s Rigel Fernandes, a senior from Bradenton, Fla. who had a final-round 70.