USF men’s golf was three strokes away from sealing its first tournament win of the season Tuesday at the Intercollegiate at The Grove in College Grove, Tenn.
The Bulls finished as tournament runner-up and had a three-stroke lead of their own entering the final round of the tournament, but shot an even par Tuesday that gave Liberty University the chance to take over at the end.
Junior Kyle Flexsenhar and freshman Albin Bergstrom led the Bulls, shooting 6 under par to tie for fifth place in the tournament. Coach Steven Bradley said he sees this experience as a chance to improve.
"There are certainly a lot of positives to take away,” Bradley said in a statement. “It continues to expose what our weaknesses are — wedge play and putting.”
Despite a seemingly lackluster short game by the Bulls, the team led the tournament with 56 birdies. Bergstrom and fellow freshman Amadeo Figus were the only Bulls who earned an eagle in the tournament.
Bergstrom had his college career best finish, but also shot three bogeys in a row on the back nine on holes 14, 15 and 16. Before that, he was 2 under par. Flexsenhar also bogeyed hole 15, but birdied the 16th to keep the Bulls competitive.
First-place Liberty shot even par on those three holes which were played toward the end of the tournament.
“I think we really beat ourselves out there today, so that's probably the toughest part to swallow,” Bradley said. “It doesn't solely rest on anybody's shoulders, we just didn't execute when we needed to execute and Liberty did."
Yet another freshman, Luke Gifford, shot 3 under par on the last day of competition, but that wasn’t enough to give the Bulls the push they needed to keep the lead.
“[Gifford] shooting 69 today was critical for us to kind of hang in there,” Bradley said. “That was pivotal for us to have a chance coming down the stretch."