Byun, North Florida break through at Hayt

Joe Byun is congratulated by his teammates after leading North Florida to a victory March 2 at the John Hayt Collegiate Invitational.

Joe Byun is congratulated by his teammates after leading North Florida to a victory March 2 at the John Hayt Collegiate Invitational.

Men's Rankings »

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1Joey GarberGeorgia  68.65 
2Robby SheltonAlabama  68.65 
3Patrick RodgersStanford  68.71 
4Ollie SchniederjansGA Tech  68.85 
5Cameron WilsonStanford  69.10 

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1Alabama 68.97 
2Georgia Tech 69.68 
3Georgia 69.68 
4Oklahoma State 69.77  10 
5California 69.86  11 

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Every breakthrough is preceded by plenty of perseverance. North Florida and Ospreys sophomore Joe Byun provided the latest example Tuesday at the John Hayt Collegiate Invitational at Sawgrass Country Club.

North Florida shot 294 Tuesday to finish at 12-over 876, 12 shots ahead of LSU, which closed with a 3-over 291, the low round of the day by three shots. LSU won last year’s Hayt.

Duke shot a final-round 304 to finish third at 889.

North Florida’s only Hayt victory came in 1994, and the Ospreys finished in the top seven just once in the past five years (third, 2008).

North Florida, which entered the tournament ranked No. 28 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, beat five teams ranked ahead of it, including No. 3 Florida.

Byun’s final-round 74 gave him a four-shot victory over teammate Sean Dale (74), Coastal Carolina’s Dan Obremski (74) and Furman’s Austin Reeves (75). Byun finished at 4-under 212, the only player to finish under par.

Byun didn’t start in the fall for North Florida, but worked hard during the break between seasons and found his game. He won the Ponte Vedra JV Invitational last month, then finished in the top 20 as an individual at the Gator Invitational, which earned him a spot in the starting lineup for this week.

“I just didn’t have it,” Byun said about his play in the fall.

Said North Florida head coach Scott Schroeder, “Golf is one of those games that you go up and you go down. He’s got a little confidence now, and it’s a game of confidence.”

Byun is the first North Florida player to win since David Bennett in 2001.

Dale made birdie on his final two holes; he was the No. 1 player in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings earlier this year after a season-opening victory at the Wolf Run Intercollegiate.

Byun made two birdies in the final round, including a 70-footer on the par-4 13th.

Conditions were difficult Tuesday at Sawgrass. Winds blew up to 30 mph, and there were brief showers. Tee times were delayed an hour after heavy morning rain.

North Florida started the final round with a three-shot lead over Duke.

At the turn, Duke and North Florida were tied. That’s when the Ospreys pulled away. North Florida’s four scorers played Nos. 10-13 in 5 under par. Duke’s scorers played that stretch in just 2 over but lost seven shots.

“To shoot 4 under on the back, you can’t say much about that,’’ Schroeder said. “That was phenomenal.”

J.C. Horne, the lone senior starting for the Ospreys, rebounded from a front-nine 41 with birdies on Nos. 11-13. Horne reached the green in two with a 4-iron at the par-5 11th, then two-putted from 15 feet. He hit 7 iron to 2 feet on the 12th hole, then made an 8-foot birdie on No. 13 after hitting pitching wedge to 8 feet.

Horne made a quadruple-bogey on the par-4 7th after hitting his tee shot out of bounds, then taking an unplayable when his provisional tee shot stuck in a palm tree.

“I just kept trusting myself,” said Horne, No. 186 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.

Freshman Kevin Phelan kept the Ospreys in the lead with his 1-under 35 on the front. Three of North Florida’s five players shot in the 40s on the front nine. Phelan led the Ospreys on Tuesday with a final-round 71.

LSU, No. 35 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, improved from seventh to second with a final-round 291. Sophomore Austin Gutgsell shot 70 to tie for fifth at 1-over 217. Gutgsell, who started the tournament at No. 642 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, posted his first career top-10, as did Florida freshman Tyler McCumber (71–217), who played as an individual

McCumber’s father, Mark, won the 1988 Players Championship across the street at TPC Sawgrass and was in attendance Tuesday. Tyler McCumber entered the week at No. 524 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.

His team struggled. Florida was the highest-ranked team in the field at No. 3 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, but finished seventh. The Gators were coming off an 18-shot victory at their own Gator Invitational.

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