UNF’s Dale (knee) returns to play Jax Open
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – A knee injury helped University of North Florida junior Sean Dale participate in his first Nationwide Tour event.
Dale, a second-team All-American last season, shot 69 Monday at St. Johns Golf & Country Club to qualify for the Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open. The event, the Nationwide Tour’s final full-field tournament of the season, begins Thursday at the Dye’s Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass.
Dale clinched his spot by advancing out of an 8-for-4 playoff in the Monday qualifier. Three players, including two-time Walker Cup player Brian Harman, birdied the first playoff hole, leaving five players competing for the final spot. Dale ended the playoff by making a 15-foot birdie putt on the next hole.
Dale has yet to compete in a college event this season after injuring his left knee while running about two months ago. He planted his foot awkwardly, which caused him to hyperextend his knee and led to a deep bone bruise.
He missed the Ospreys’ first two events – including his title defense at the Wolf Run Intercollegiate – because of the injury. After he missed those events, Dale and UNF head coach Scott Schroeder decided Dale should sit out the entire fall, leaving open the option of a redshirt season.
If healthy, Dale wouldn’t have been able to compete in the Nationwide Tour qualifier. UNF was competing at the David Toms Intercollegiate on Monday and Tuesday. Dale said he didn’t sign up for the qualifier until the middle of last week, the day before the deadline.
He said he’s played Dye’s Valley Course countless times. Dale is from nearby Jacksonville, and the course is one of UNF’s home courses. He estimated 66 was his low score on the track, but said the course is playing about 1 to 2 strokes more difficult because of narrower fairways and thick rough.
Dale will tee off at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. He’s playing with George Bradford, of Hyattsville, Md., and Michael Welch, of Quincy, Mass.