USF men’s golf entered this weekend ranked eighth in the country after placing first and second in its first two events.
The Bulls had another strong showing over the weekend at the Erin Hills Collegiate hosted by Marquette, placing fifth out of 11 teams. However, coach Steven Bradley said the showing was disappointing and not up to the team’s potential.
“We finished fifth, but at one point we were in third,” Bradley said. “There’s obviously some good to take away from it, but we’re pretty disappointed with how we finished.”
The cold and windy weather played a factor in the team’s ability to produce consistent rounds, but Bradley said the team has to learn how to adjust.
“The weather conditions never got above 46 degrees, and for us, we’re not used to playing in those conditions,” Bradley said. “You’d like to think we could handle those things, but if you don’t ever get a chance to practice in those conditions, it takes its toll on you.”
Junior Chase Koepka didn’t card a single bogey, shooting a 6-under par 66 in the final round — a tournament low — to jump him into a tie for fourth place after shooting a combined 5-over in the first two rounds.
“(Koepka) played solid,” Bradley said. “I think he hit every fairway and 15 greens, so he never really gave himself any trouble out there.”
Koepka led the field in birdies (12), as well as making par on 34 of 54 holes. Koepka notched his first win of the season in the team’s first event, but struggled in the following tournament. He has had a roller coaster year so far, but Bradley expects him to gain momentum.
“With the first event that he won, I think he just got frustrated and wanted to win again,” Bradley said. “When he wasn’t playing well, it just frustrated him more, but he just has to manage his expectations week in and week out and know that they’ll change a little bit.”
Sophomore Rigel Fernandes was the only other Bull to finish in the top-15, shooting 5-over for the tournament, landing him in a tie for 14th. Senior Trey Valentine and freshman Claudio Correa also had strong showings; both finished 29th out of 66 golfers.
“The team has as much talent and firepower as anybody in the country,” Bradley said. “We’ve just have to play smart and be flexible to change our game plan to the conditions without beating ourselves.”
With first, second and now fifth place finishes under their belt, the Bulls look to build momentum as they look forward to their next event, the Gifford Collegiate in San Martin, California on Nov. 3-5.