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Correa, USF men’s golf bounce back and dominate the Jackrabbit Invitational

Sophomore Claudio Correa shot a tournament-low 67 in the final round of the Jackrabbit Invitational, securing USF’s first win of the season. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/GOUSFBULLS.COM

After a frustrating finish at the Carpet Capital Collegiate two weeks ago, sophomore Claudio Correa refocused and captured a share of the win at the Jackrabbit Invitational at The Prairie Golf Club over the weekend.

Correa’s 7-under finish helped lead USF to a dominant 19-stroke victory, its first of the season.

“He’s just that good,” coach Steven Bradley said of Correa. “He was pretty embarrassed after the first tournament and he came out with something to prove to himself that last year wasn’t a fluke.”

Correa, the 2014 AAC Freshman of the Year, birdied six holes — five on the back nine — during his third round. A birdie on the par-5 15th hole moved him into the top spot where he would finish tied with Oregon’s Aaron Wise.

Correa’s final round got off to a rough start with a bogey on his first hole, but the Chile native bounced back, rattling off five birdies in the following 12 holes.

“(Correa) just got more and more comfortable, and when he gets going with his confidence, he’s a pretty tough player to beat,” Bradley said.

The win is Correa’s first of the season and second of his career. Correa won the Gator Invitational in the spring — one of his six top-10 finishes.

Of the 73 players in the field, USF placed all five starters in the top 14, with sophomore Cristian DiMarco placing tied for 38th as an individual.

Senior Chase Koepka’s 5-under third round moved him into sole possession of seventh place with a 4-under-par score for the tournament.

Junior Rigel Fernandes and senior Aksel Olsen finished just outside the top 10. Fernandes carded one more birdie in the final round than Correa, but with five bogeys, he finished in 11th place at 1-under-par. Olsen finished in 13th at 1-over.

“(The depth) is great for us,” Bradley said. “We only have three of the five (starters) returning from last year’s squad, but coming into the season, on paper I felt we were better than we were last year.

“But we played really well as a team last year. Just because you have the talent, doesn’t mean you’re going to produce the results.”

USF’s finish at 18-under-par is the fourth lowest in program history and the most strokes-under-par since the Bulls’ 27-under finish in the AAC championship in May.

“It’s satisfying to get the win, but it’s all the more gratifying as a coach when we played as poorly we did in the first event and then come out here and prove to ourselves that they are a legitimate team,” Bradley said.