When a team starts the season off with second-to-last- and last-place finishes, achieving success and, more specifically, victories often can become a lengthy process.
But for Florida Gulf Coast’s men’s golf team, the turnaround was immediate.
After a 14th-place finish at the Golfweek Conference Challenge and a 15th-place showing at the Saint Mary’s Invitational, the Eagles won the Cobra Puma Invitational, a tournament they co-host with Xavier, on Oct. 1 in Fort Myers, Fla. FGCU set a school record with a 54-hole total of 27-under 278.
“It was a huge confidence boost and something we needed to turn our season around,” FGCU head coach Brent Jensen said. “I knew the guys had it in them, and it was good for them to realize it themselves.”
The Eagles won for the second straight season at Miromar Lakes Golf Club. While the team practices at the course only about once a week, returning home after two road trips was just what the young team, which includes two freshman starters, needed.
“We’re a fairly young team,” Jensen said. “Most of them had never traveled that far west to play in a tournament before. A little bit of (the struggle) was due to them adjusting to the golf course. They were trying to go out there and make perfect swings instead of just going out there, playing golf and scoring.”
One of the team’s freshmen, Edward Figueroa, had never traveled farther than Colorado to play a golf tournament. The 2012 U.S. Amateur qualifier posted a course-record, 8-under 64 to cap his 16-under performance and take medalist honors in Fort Myers. In three tournaments this fall, Figueroa has led the team in scoring twice and tied for the lowest total in the other.
His latest 54-hole total (200) bested the previous school record, which was held by current assistant Dan Mazziotta, by four shots.
Now the challenge for FGCU is to continue the momentum from its recent record-breaking performance. The Eagles will play in the Pinetree Intercollegiate on Oct. 22-23 in Kennesaw, Ga. The field includes Kennesaw State and Liberty.
“Coming off a win, that’s something that’s going to motivate this team,” Jensen said. “Based off our first two events, they know what can happen. Having that happen and then playing lights out, that’ll light a fire under them. I don’t think they’ll get complacent. I don’t see that being the case with this group of guys.
“We’re going to try and keep riding this wave.”