PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Led by a 14th place finish by senior Brett McKinnon, the Jacksonville University men's golf team completed the Sea Best Invitational in a tie for 10th among the 15 team leaderboard. Play concluded today after the final 18-holes were conducted in shotgun format at the par-70, 6,933 yard Dye's Valley Course, marking the start of the spring season for 15 teams.
"I think the course proved to be a tough a test for all the teams competing," said head coach Mike Blackburn. "From that standpoint some of the top schools that came want to test their players. In turn, a lot of those schools are reciprocating that invitation to play in some of their tournaments. That helps build our schedule and helps with recruiting. This golf tournament is the cornerstone of our whole program."
McKinnon was the Dolphin leader for all three rounds as the senior from Nova Scotia climbed two spots to secure his second top-15 finish of the season.
"The course was playing a little tougher today," said McKinnon. "The pin was in places we didn't see yesterday, ones on side slopes today. Again, there wasn't easy conditions; wind was still up."
When asked what he can take away from the first tournament of the season.
"Try to look at all the positives," said the senior. "I struck the ball well and really battled on the greens, and was able to put up a good number playing in the wind. I'll need to clean up some things in my short game and get ready for the Gator Invite."
"We've gotten use to that from Brett," said Blackburn. "He is tough, mentally. When he is hitting the ball well, he doesn't normally let rounds get away from him. His game has really come around."
After carding two double-bogeys on the front-nine, freshman Raul Pereda regained the climb up the leaderboard by shooting even par on the front-nine springing him into a tie for 26th and 15-over par for the tournament. The feat notches four top-30 finishes in his inaugural collegiate season.
"I think the difference between yesterday from today for me, is I played more calm focused on more of my shots," said Pereda."I didn't have a great mental round yesterday afternoon. It was cold and windy again today with some tough pin positions, but I had a decent score, could've been better but some bad breaks led to that. I have to always keep practicing, I'm driving the holes really well, executing the shots, but for all of us we are going to win it on the green and that comes from practicing our short game."
Junior Franck Medale finished the third round 10-over par, while sophomore Ryan Jahn was nine-over par improving 13 strokes on his first to second round score. Senior Colin Monagle began the day at 12-over par, and finished with an 81.
JU returns to action following the Sea Best Invite when they compete in the Gator Invitational Feb. 14-15 in Gainesville, Fla.