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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Temple keeps learning against tough American field

   Temple had some high hopes for the spring portion of its campaign after capping a strong fall with a victory in the City 6 Championship at Huntingdon Valley Country Club.
   Brian Quinn’s young team took its lumps this spring, finishing it off by ending up as the last of nine when The American Championship wrapped up Tuesday at the Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course in Palm Harbor, Fla.
   But even that result isn’t completely out of context for what Quinn is trying to accomplish on North Broad Street. He took three sophomores, a redshirt sophomore and a redshirt freshman to Innisbrook this week, many of them local players who wouldn’t get the time of day from a high-powered Division I program. And they competed against a pretty tough field.
   South Florida, for instance, is No. 53 in the latest Golfstat rankings and the Bulls claimed their third straight American Athletic Conference title with a 15-shot victory over No. 96 Cincinnati and No. 54 Houston.
   South Florida was led by Cristian DiMarco, a junior from Longwood, Fla. and the son of Golf Channel commentator Chris DiMarco, who quite famously lost to Tiger Woods in a playoff at the Masters in 2005.
   The younger DiMarco lost in a playoff for the individual title at the American to Houston’s Michael Perras, a junior from Deer Park, Texas, after they finished tied for the top spot at 1-under-par 212 over the 7,125-yard, par-71 Copperhead Course layout.
   DiMarco helped the Bulls put together rounds of 3-over 287, 1-under 283 and another 3-over 287 for a 5-over 857 total. Perras and the Cougars, with a final-round 287, and Cincinnati, which closed with a 293, shared second place at 20-over 872.
   UCF, the highest-ranked team in the field at No. 47, finished fourth at 877 and No. 127 Memphis finished with a 3-over 287 to take fifth at 881. Temple opened with a 298 and added rounds of 300 and 304 to finish ninth at 902.
   South Florida got another strong showing from Jimmy Jones, a junior from Tampa, Fla. who finished tied for third at even-par 213. Jones had a one-shot lead in the individual chase after a 3-under 68 in the middle round before falling back a little with a final-round 74.
   Also for the Bulls, Rigel Fernandes, a senior from Bradenton, Fla., finished tied for ninth at 5-over 218, Priyanshu Singh, a junior from India, finished tied for 11th at 6-over 219 and Claudio Correa, a junior from Chile, finished tied for 20th at 223. Singh and Correa both contributed a solid 1-over 72 in the final round.
   Houston’s Perras has been known to go low. He carded a 16-under 200 to take individual honors in the 2016 Franklin NCAA Regional at Vanderbilt’s Legends Club. He was very steady over a tough Copperhead Course, sandwiching a 1-under 70 in the middle round with a pair of even-par 71s. After getting into contention with a 2-under 69 in the middle round, DiMarco carded a 1-under 70 in the final round to force the playoff.
   A wayward second shot by DiMarco on the first playoff hole, the 18th on the Copperhead, enabled Perras to take the title with a bogey.
   Joining South Florida’s Jones at even-par 213 was SMU’s Gray Townsend, a junior from Winston-Salem, N.C., who closed with a 3-under 68, the low round of the day that was matched by two others.
   Cincinnati’s Austin Squires, a sophomore from Union, Ky., and Houston’s Papito Gonzalez, a redshirt junior from McAllen, Texas, shared fifth place at 1-over 214. Squires was in contention for the individual title with rounds of 72 and 68 before falling back a little with a final-round 74. Gonzalez led the field after an opening-round 68, struggled with a 76 in the middle round and finished up with a 1-under 70.
   As for the Owls, Trey Wren, a sophomore from Suffolk, Va., capped a strong season by finishing tied for 15th with rounds of 74, 73 and 74 and an 8-over 213 total over the Copperhead Course.
   Sophomore Gary McCabe, a former La Salle standout from Collegeville, finished tied for 37th at 230. Two Central League standouts of recent vintage, sophomore Sam Soeth, who starred at Marple Newtown, and redshirt freshman Erik Reisner, a two-time Central League champion at Harriton, finished tied for 41st at 231. Soeth had a final-round 77 while Reisner finished strong with a 3-over 74.
   John Barone, a redshirt sophomore from Dunmore, finished tied for 43rd at 232. Barone started strong with a pair of 74s before struggling home with an 84.
   Quinn’s team has run the gauntlet this spring, going up against top-notch competition during a busy schedule. They are better players for it. It will be interesting to watch them as they take that next step.

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