PALM CITY, FL (March 21, 2017) -- A handful of teams made runs on Tuesday but in the end No. 16 Wake Forest was able to hold on for a one-stroke victory at the Valspar Collegiate hosted by The Floridian.
Starting the beautiful final day nine shots ahead, the Demon Deacons turned in a 4-over final round that left that at 7-over and the slimiest of margins in front of runner-up Georgia Tech (+8). No. 3 Oklahoma State (+9) was third and No. 17 Texas (+12); No. 8 LSU (+12) shared fourth. All four teams immediately behind Wake Forest were under-par on Tuesday but they simply ran out of holes to track down the overnight leaders.
The low round of the day for Wake Forest, winners of two events in a row and four overall, was junior Will Zalatoris. The Plano, TX native finished the tournament 1-under and tied for second place following rounds of 70-72-70.
Zalatoris had been making a strong bid for medalist honors but a double-bogey, bogey finish derailed those aspirations. The round started slowly for Zalatoris with a 2nd hole bogey but five birdies during the middle of the round from Nos. 7-16 brought him to as low as 4-under for the tournament.
Wake Forest led overnight thanks in large part to the second round play of freshman Eric Bae who finished the Valsapar Collegiate even-par and tied for third, junior Paul McBride was tied for 20th at 5-over, sophomore Cameron Young shared 25th at 6-over and sophomore Lee Detmer was tied for 46th at 10-over.
In the medalist race Tyler Strafaci of Georgia Tech was able to emerge as the winner by a stroke. What comes with the trophy? An invitation to play in the 2018 Valspar Championship on the PGA Tour.
“It’s unbelievable to win against a field like this. I just don’t really know what to say. I get to play in a PGA Tour event, and I can’t be happier to get to do that," Strafaci told Golfweek.
Following an opening 2-over 73, Strafaci rebounded with rounds of 69-69 to post a 54-hole tally of 2-under.
What makes the freshman's first career win even more improbable was that in his previous four appearances for the Yellow Jackets he never once finished better than 27th.
1-over for the tournament after 12-holes, Strafaci rallied to the house with 13th, 15th and then the winning birdie on the 17th hole.
Zalatoris shared second place with Scott Stevens of South Carolina at 1-under while six players were tied for fourth at even-par.
The group was comprised of 36-hole leader Thomas Rosenmueller (North Texas), Kristoffer Ventura (Oklahoma State), Sam Burns (LSU), Doug Ghim (Texas), Rigel Fernandes (USF) and Bae.
-Golfweek contributed to this story