PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – It was an exciting final round at PGA Golf Club on Sunday that included two playoffs, with both the men’s and women’s teams from Bethune-Cookman University claiming titles at the 27th PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship presented by Brown Capital Management.
In the women’s division, Bethune-Cookman captured the title in thrilling fashion. The Wildcats defeated the University of Texas-Pan American on the first playoff hole to claim their championship-record 10th overall title.
Both teams finished with a 909 total then headed back to the 18th hole on the Ryder Course for the playoff. In the playoff, each team took the four lowest scores of the five players who played the hole. Bethune-Cookman finished with a total score of 1 under par, while Texas-Pan American finished 1 over par on the playoff hole.
Chicago State University finished alone in third place overall at 935.
The Bethune-Cookman women’s team was led by Andrea Orozco, who was also the women’s team medalist, finishing with a 54-hole total of 4-over-par 220.
The Bethune-Cookman men’s team also won in exciting fashion, making up a four-stroke deficit in the final round, and winning by a single stroke over 36-hole leader Texas-Pan American. Alabama State University finished third, 12 strokes behind Bethune-Cookman.
The Wildcat men, who finished with an 883 total, were led by freshman Ryan Fricker. The Englishman shot a final-round 71 on the Wanamaker Course to finish third in the men’s Division I medalist race. Kevin Kirakossian, a senior on the Texas-Pan American team, claimed medalist honors.
“We really didn’t play well yesterday and almost let the Championship slip away,” said Fricker. “I was happy to help the team today and it felt good to win this championship in my first appearance. It was really cool.”
PGA Professional Scooter Clark, the head coach at Bethune-Cookman, was extremely pleased with both team’s performances in the final round.
“It was a long and a very stressful day out there,” said Clark, who is in his third year as head coach. “But both teams really grinded and I am just thrilled to take home both titles in this incredible tournament. It is really satisfying.”
In Division II, Lincoln University from Jefferson City, Mo., took home its fifth overall title, closing with a final-round 302 and an 898 total. Texas A&M International finished second at 922, while Virginia State University finished third at 932.
The Blue Tigers of Lincoln University were led by Steven Mallow, who finished with 4-over-par 220 total.
Zach Smith of Virginia State University claimed Division II medalist honors, finishing with an even-par 216 total.
In the Men's Independent Division, Robert Grant of Alabama State University won an exciting three-person playoff to earn the title. The England native holed-out from 133 yards for eagle on the 18th hole to force the playoff, and hit his approach, on the same 18th hole in the playoff, to two feet for birdie to capture the title in his first attempt.
Justin Watkins, the 2012 men’s independent champion, from the University of Central Oklahoma and Daniel Inocencio of UNLV tied for second place after both made bogey on the playoff hole.
“I absolutely pured the shot from 133 yards and saw it hit the flag. Then I saw my teammates go crazy and I knew it was in,” said Grant. “And then to hit another great shot in the playoff was just incredible. This event is our National Championship and it’s so great to win it.”
In the Women's Independent Division, Alexis Belton of Texas Wesleyan closed with a 74 to win the title by a single stroke over Samantha Garcia of Texas-Pan American.
“I came into the final round and I just wanted to have fun and try to play my best,” said Belton, who was competing in her first PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship. “It felt great to win and I can’t wait to come back and play again next year.”
In the NAIA division, Talladega (Ala.) College captured its second title overall title in the Championship and first since 2010. The Tornado led throughout the Championship and finished well ahead of Edward Waters College of Jacksonville, Fla.
Kevin Parker of Edward Waters College claimed the NAIA division medalist honors, finishing with a sparkling 6-under-par 210 total.
The PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship presented by Brown Capital Management, which is celebrating its 27th edition this year, originated in November 1986 following the Jackson State University Golf Tournament, and has elevated golf in minority colleges and universities by providing opportunities to more players to compete in a national championship.
In 2006, The PGA of America was granted complete ownership and management of the championship by the National Minority Collegiate Golf Scholarship Fund.