Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. – USC Upstate standout men’s golfer Ryan Cornfield led the USC Upstate men’s golf team throughout the Sea Best Seafood Invitational which wrapped up Tuesday and finished a team-best tied for 21st in the event played on the Valley Course at the TPC Sawgrass.
The tournament boasted a strong field with nine of the 15 teams in the event ranked in the Top 100 in the latest Golfstat ranking and with 16 players ranked in the Top 100. All 15 teams were ranked in the Top 150 in the country. Cornfield more than held his own in coming home in a tie for 21st. He finished the 54-hole event with a 224 total after rounds of 74, 73 and 77. He tied two players ranked in the Top 100 and finished ahead of four others, including 12th-ranked Zach Seabolt from Winthrop and 23rd-ranked Hank Lebioda from Florida State. Cornfield entered the tournament ranked No. 115 in the nation.
“Ryan is such a competitor in conditions which were tough,” said Upstate head coach Todd Lawton. “He fought through a lot of things today. He didn’t hit a lot of greens and had to get up and down. He made the best of a lot of his missed opportunities. He still fought and was up at the top of a very strong field.”
Upstate shot a 312 in the final round and made up significant ground on teams in front of it. The Spartans entered the day in 15th place and 11 shots back of three teams. Upstate made up eight strokes on Old Dominion and two on Winthrop, but finished the tournament in 15th with a 933 total.
North Carolina, ranked No. 15 in the nation, won the team championship with an 873 total after shooting a 289 on Tuesday. The Tar Heels were followed on the leaderboard by No. 51 Florida (880), No. 30 UNLV (882), No. 28 North Florida (884), No. 3 Florida State (887), No. 52 Texas A&M (901), McNeese State (903), No. 74 Tennessee (905), Coastal Carolina (906), Liberty (913), No. 87 Jacksonville (913), Jacksonville State (913), No. 31 Winthrop (924), Old Dominion (930) and Upstate (933).
“Based on the field’s strength and the final scores, this golf course will be one of the most difficult played in college golf this year,” said Lawton. “There were nine teams in the Top 100 and their average score was 18-over as a team. That just shows you how tough the course was. It was a phenomenal course and a great opportunity to play the same type of conditions you see in professional tournaments that are held here. We are not where we want to be. We have to put together four solid scores. We had three today and we need to focus on getting the top guys to work on their games and compete and get more balance in the fourth score.”
Cornfield did not record a birdie during his round, but was consistent throughout. Taylor White turned in his best round of the tournament in the final round on Tuesday and finished with a pair of birdies for a 75 to lead Upstate on the day. His birdies came on holes No. 1 and No. 3 and took the turn at 1-under. Sebastian Lopez Bulla finished with a 76 and birdied the 18th. Both Trey Taylor and Andrew Purcell turned in an 84 for the fourth countable score on the day.
Cornfield was the top Upstate finisher in the tournament in a tie for 21st. Lopez Bulla (231) was next in a tie for 43rd and was followed by White (234), Purcell (245) and Taylor (253). UNLV’s John Oda won the individual championship with an even-par 210 on the par-70 layout.
Upstate will return to the course Feb. 23 when it tees off in the first round of the Jones Invitational hosted by Pepperdine.