PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – For an extraordinary 14th time, the women of Bethune-Cookman University left Port St. Lucie as victors of the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship presented by CastleOak Securities. The 31st edition of the 54-hole, stroke-play event was contested on PGA Golf Club’s Wanamaker and Ryder Courses and featured six divisions.
The Bethune-Cookman women enjoyed their sixth consecutive Women’s Division victory with a three-day total of 889, defeating second place University of the Incarnate Word (919) by 30 strokes. The Wildcats were led by Mackenzie Butzer (215), whose final round, 1-under-par 71 solidified her position as the division’s medalist, finishing 1-under-par for the Championship and nine strokes ahead of teammate Alejandra Sanchez and Incarnate Word’s Madison Frerking.
“Today, I had the mentality of playing easy golf,” said Butzer, who finished runner-up in the Women’s Division medalist race last year. “I worked extremely hard all year and my game has come together, finally.”
Not to be outdone by their fellow Wildcats, the men of Bethune-Cookman (875) claimed their fourth Men’s Division I victory in five years with a 16-stroke margin over Incarnate Word (891). Sam Sloman’s steady play and three-day total of 217 earned him the Division I medalist.
A three-stroke advantage heading into Sunday’s final round grew to five for the University of Connecticut’s Nabeel Khan. He carded a final round, 4-under-par 68, the Championship’s lowest round, and fended off last year’s champion Siyan Liu (213), of Palm Beach Atlantic University, to win the Men’s Individual Invitational. A sophomore from Westerville, Ohio, Khan (208) was the only player in any division to break par in all three rounds after a 1-under-par 71 on Friday and a 3-under-par 69 on Saturday.
“Any win means a lot, but this one in particular is special,” said Khan, who will tee it up tomorrow morning in a U.S. Open local qualifier at Maketewah Country Club in Cincinnati, Ohio. “I get to represent my school and where I’m from. This is a really big stepping stone for my career.”
New year, same result for the Women’s Individual Invitational. The University of Maryland Eastern Shore’s Tiana Jones (232) cruised to a five-stroke victory over the University of West Alabama’s Kaitlyn Rose (237), Jones’ fourth consecutive victory at this Championship. Jones will return to UMES in the fall for her final year in the PGA Golf Management University Program.
A pair of playoffs determined the team champion and medalist honors for Men’s Division II. After finishing 54 holes knotted up at 927, Lincoln University and the University of West Alabama played two more to determine the champion. West Alabama sealed the victory with a team-combined 2-under-par on the second playoff hole, beating Lincoln by one stroke. West Alabama was led by Brannon O’Pry, who defeated Virginia State University’s Samuel Reid in a separate playoff to earn the Men’s Division II medalist.
Taking home the NAIA Division trophy for the third time in four years were the Jaguars of the University of Houston-Victoria (925). Medalist honors were awarded to Juan David Coy (229), who edged out his teammates Terry Strickland and Christian Esparza by two strokes.
The PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship presented by CastleOak Securities has elevated golf in minority colleges and universities by providing opportunities for players to compete in a national championship. In 2006, the PGA of America was granted complete ownership and management by the National Minority Collegiate Golf Scholarship Fund.
“This is my favorite event to come to,” said Butzer, who will compete in the Canadian Amateur and Ontario Amateur this summer. “The course, people and competition are all great. It’s just a special atmosphere to be around.”