For three days at the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational, the UCF men’s golf team went toe-to-toe with the No. 1-ranked and defending national champion Alabama.
The Crimson Tide led virtually wire to wire and took the prestigious event’s team championship, but not without a battle from the No. 16 Knights. A little more than halfway through Tuesday’s third and final round, UCF was just three strokes back. While Alabama was able to push its lead back out to a more comfortable margin, the Knights still came away with their best-ever finish at their final event of the fall season.
Alabama put together a three-day total of 838 (-26) to take the victory and set a new tournament record for total team score. UCF took runner-up honors with a final tally of 850 (-14). California, the defending ICI champion, was the only other team to finish under par at 859 (-5).
“I think it shows the development and maturity of our program,” UCF head coach Bryce Wallor said of his team’s finish. “We have a bunch of seniors on our golf team. We have guys that know how to play the golf course. So I think that led to us inevitably having a great golf tournament. Maybe any other year that score we put up wins, but this year we had to play a very good Alabama team.”
The Knights picked up victories over No. 4 California, No. 6 Illinois, No. 11 New Mexico, No. 15 Texas and No. 18 Arkansas. In addition to those squads, the Knights finished in front of a total of 13 other teams, 12 of which were ranked among the top 50 in the nation.
Alabama’s Trey Mullinax tied the individual tournament record with an 11-under total of 205 for the tournament. He tallied scores of 66, 68 and 71 to take the victory.
Meanwhile, UCF was paced by three top-10 finishers. Senior Kyle Wilshire put together rounds of 71, 71 and 70 for a 4-under 212. Freshman Ryan Stovash was just behind, tying for fifth. He carded rounds of 70, 71 and 72 to finish 3-under. Senior Greg Eason slipped from third place after the first two rounds to a tie for eighth. After scoring 68 and 69 in the first two rounds, the All-America performer struggled a bit on Tuesday finishing up with a 78 for a 215 (-1).
Senior Ricardo Gouveia opened with a 77, but followed with rounds of 70 and 71 to finish with a three-round score of 218 (+2) and in a tie for 18th. Junior transfer Linus Vaisanen rounded out the Knights’ lineup in a tie for 28th, firing scores of 73, 73 and 74 for a 4-over 220.
“We had a great tournament,” Stovash said. “A lot of guys played well and we beat a couple good teams and we finished second, which was awesome.”
The Knights are now off from competition until Feb. 15-16, when they will open the spring portion of their schedule at the Gator Invitational in Gainesville, Fla.
“You look at our fall and we started the season with two wins, a fifth and now a second in a very good golf tournament,” Wallor said. “It gives us something to build on. Obviously Alabama setting the bar pretty high gives us the notion that we need to improve. So we’ll look at the off-season as a chance to improve and see if we can be a little more competitive in the spring.”
- Alabama 280-272-286=838 (-26)
- UCF 282-281-287=850 (-14)
- California 284-286-289=859 (-5)
4. Kyle Wilshire 71-71-70=212 (-4)
T5. Ryan Stovash 70-71-72=213 (-3)
T8. Greg Eason 68-69-78=215 (-1)
T18. Ricardo Gouveia 77-70-71=218 (+2)
T28. Linus Vaisanen 73-73-74=220 (+4)