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Bulls ‘come together,’ Valentine gets second career win

 

After four straight top five finishes in the fall, the No. 28 USF men’s golf team is back at it, scoring back-to-back second place finishes in their last two tournaments.

“We didn’t play well in Houston, but that was our only bad outing of the year,” USF coach Chris Malloy said. “It’s hard to be that consistent with such a young team, but we’re playing some really good golf right now and it’s all starting to come together.”

The team has been playing well as of late, but can’t seem to string together enough shots to muster up a first place finish.

Malloy said the team is in need of a “fourth scorer” to come in and play well to give the Bulls those crucial strokes that make the difference between first and second place. 

This would mean players such as junior Joseph Winslow who finished 18 over par (T-64) and senior Richard James (T-40) – both of whom have struggled this spring – would need to get back on track as they approach the final stretch of the season.

Malloy said he prides himself on having six players – five who travel – that can not only compete, but win. 

“We have about six guys right now that we feel comfortable with,” Malloy said. “There’s going to be a good player left at home, but that’s what makes them better and that’s what makes us better.”

For the past couple tournaments, that player has been junior Trey Valentine.

Valentine has struggled with academics and has yet to see the starting lineup this spring, but was given a shot to redeem himself, and didn’t disappoint, shooting a 68 (-4) in the final round last weekend at the Seminole Intercollegiate to get his second career win.

“He was on the outside looking in for a couple tournaments, but he stepped right in and showed that he is a force to be reckoned with,” Malloy said.

Valentine was able to make a pivotal 220-yard shot on the 17th hole, which set up a par putt, keeping his hopes of a victory alive. Valentine was able to par his final two holes, but he still needed help.

Sophomore Hans Reimers of Mercer came into the final round with a four shot lead over Valentine, but relinquished the lead after a three-putt on the final hole.

“I expected him to at least par the last hole to tie if not birdie it to win,” Valentine said. “He ended up three-putting it and I was in shock, I didn’t expect that.”

Both Valentine and Malloy said the greens were the most challenging aspect at Southwood, but having already played the course three times prior, Valentine’s experience gave him a distinct edge.

“This one is a little bit sweeter than my first, just because of what I’ve been through trying to get back in the lineup,” he said.

The Bulls finished with three golfers in the top-12 with freshman Rigel Fernandez (-2) tying for third and sophomore Chase Koepka (E) tying for 12th.

The Bulls only have one tournament left before they head to the AAC Championships in April. They play in the Floridian Invitational in Stuart on March 24-25.