PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – For Bethune Cookman University, it was yet another impressive example of a dynasty in cruise control at the 32nd PGA Minority Collegiate Championship at PGA Golf Club.
The Wildcats captured a record seventh-straight—and 15th overall—women’s crown in collegiate golf’s most culturally significant championship. Meanwhile, the men’s team notched their third-consecutive PGA Minority Collegiate Championship and 10th title overall.
The teams from Daytona Beach rocketed right out of the gate and never let off the throttle throughout the 54 holes of competition. Paced by medalist Mackenzie Butzer who had a final round 1-under par 71 (70-75-71 216), the Bethune Cookman women (297-307-299 903) defeated runner-up University of the Incarnate Word by 27 strokes on the Ryder Course. North Carolina A&T finished third, another seven strokes back.
“This is overwhelming,” said Butzer. “This is my last year, and I gave it all I had. I had fun and played easy. Everything seemed to be clicking.”
Meanwhile, the Bethune Cookman men (286-282-286 854) shot 10-under par for the championship, winning by an amazing 57 strokes over Savannah State on the Wanamaker Course. The University of Incarnate Word placed third.
For Bethune Cookman, it was a three-day showcase of utmost command. After closing out the championship on No. 18, the women’s team sprayed the men’s team with a water bottle shower that would have rivaled a dramatic victory celebration.
“It was so fun to see our student-athletes end the season like this,” said Bethune Cookman head coach Danny Forshey.
The Bethune Cookman men were led by medalist Marcus Sundlof, of Sweden (65-70-71 206), who bested his teammate Christian Hovstadius for the honor by seven strokes.
“It feels great,” said Sundlof, a sophomore who overcame a wrist injury at the beginning of the year. “We had a lot of team wins, but I wasn’t playing well personally. It’s great to finish off the year this way.”
A history of excellence in the championship was the overall theme for each team division winner.
Division II was won by California State University-Dominguez Hills for the third time in the past four years, as the Toros recorded a 15-shot victory over Lincoln University. Virginia Union’s Sergio Escalante took Division II Medalist honors with a 54-hole championship total of 220.
“This tournament is always challenging,” said Toros head coach Ron Eastman. “The rankings don’t matter, because everyone plays from the heart.”
Despite starting its golf program eight years ago, the University of Houston-Victoria won its third-straight NAIA title—and a Division record fourth overall—by defeating runner-up Governors State by 12 strokes. The two teams started the day four strokes apart, before Houston-Victoria pulled away. Governors State’s Matt Contey was NAIA medalist with a three-day total of 222.
“It was tough competition,” said Houston-Victoria head coach Christi Cano. “We had to grind it out for our victory today.”
For the second straight year, the men’s individual title was won by the University of Connecticut’s Nabeel Kahn, who overcame a rusty start to the championship for a 2-under par final round 70 (75-70-70 215) to win by 12 strokes over both Palm Beach Atlantic’s Siyan Liu and West Florida’s Joseph Stills.
“Any win is a good feeling,” said Khan. “I started rough on the first day. It wasn’t like an outright win. It was grit.”
The women’s individual prize was earned by St. John’s (N.Y.) University sophomore Linda Wang (72-73-73 218), who defeated runner-up Rachelle Orme of Savannah State by nine strokes.
In a weather-related quirk designed to get ahead of the heavy rains forecasted to arrive from Mother Nature on Mother’s Day, the final round actually began on Saturday, as the teams played 27 holes overall, including the first nine holes of the championship’s final stanza. The final nine holes were completed on Sunday morning in slightly rainy and muggy conditions.
The PGA Minority Collegiate Championship is the most culturally significant championship in collegiate golf. In 2006, the PGA of America was granted complete ownership and management by the National Minority Collegiate Golf Scholarship Fund.
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