PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Two members of the Jacksonville University men's golf team's five-man competition squad finished par or better at The John Hayt Invitational, Monday.
Battling through weather conditions that delayed play until a shotgun start at 10:00 a.m. and an injury that forced sophomore Eduardo Carrete to withdraw from two rounds, the Dolphins placed fifth out of 15 teams in the tournament, finishing in front of four teams ranked in the top-50. JU carded six-over 870 (294+277+299) on the par 72, 6966 yard oceanside course at the Sawgrass Country Club, finishing as one of two teams to shoot an round under 280 in the event.
"Overall, given the teams we finished ahead of, and having to play a man down, I was impressed with our performance during the tournament," Head Coach Mike Blackburn said. "We would have liked to have finished the third round a little bit stronger, but overall, we can take away a lot of positives."
Senior Raul Pereda ended a spectacular outing by shooting par 72 in the third round of play, completing the competition in a tie for third place with Auburn's Brandon Mancheno (no. 31). The no. 82 ranked golfer in the country carded seven-under 209 (71+66+72) on the weekend, shooting par or better on all three rounds of the 54-hole event for the third time this season.
"Raul is playing the best golf of his life right now," Blackburn added. "It looked like a walk in the park for him. This is exactly where we would like him to be at this point in the season."
Fellow-senior Elliott Fullalove birdied three times on the final 18 holes to finish out the tournament even through three rounds (216, 73+70+73). The Kingswood, England native concluded play in a four-way tie for 16th place, his best finish of the season thus far.
Freshmen Michael Sakane (six-over 222) and Aaeri Krishnan (10-over 226) each shot five-over 77 in the third round to place tied for 41st and tied for 59th place respectively. Competing as an individual, junior Sam Uhland finished tied for in a tie for 81st. Carette withdrew mid-way into the first round of play on day one, but returned to shoot a two-under 70 on the second flight. The Mexico native once again pulled out shortly after beginning the final round.
Coming down to the wire, The John Hayt Invitational was won by no. 7 Auburn, who locked up its third-straight tournament victory this season. The Tigers (12-under 852) shot a tournament-low 13-under 275 on the final round, moving up three spots to edge out no. 24 North Carolina (11-under 853) by one stroke for the title.
No. 57 Liberty (three-under 861) and no. 58 UCF (five-over 869) finished third and fourth in competition, with the Knights moving ahead of the Dolphins by a stroke in the final two holes. No. 25 North Florida, Who won the tournament as the host team last year, placed seventh, shooting nine-over 873. Purdue's Ben Carlson, who began the day in second place, won individual medalist honors, carding nine-under 207 on the weekend.
Competing in The Hayt for the 11th time in school history, JU grabbed its third-straight top-5 finish in the event, held just 45 minutes from campus, and just across the street from the team's home course at TPC Sawgrass.
Following the conclusion of the only competition in March for the Dolphins, the team will enter another three week hiatus, before resuming tournament play next month. JU will next compete at the Gary Koch Invitational in Gastonia, N.C. on April 9 & 10, the team's final tournament before the ASUN Championship the following week.