Valencia, Calif. – USC Upstate’s Ryan Cornfield has consistently shown he can play with the best golfers in college golf. He may have turned in the best day of his collegiate career Monday when he shot rounds of 68 and 72 to finish the day at 4–under-par and in a tie for third place in the Jones Invitational at the Valencia Country Club.
The Jones Invitational is being hosted by Pepperdine and features nine teams ranked in the Top 100 in the nation, including No. 4 Southern Cal, and seven players ranked in the Top 100 in the individual rankings by Golfstat. By the end of the day, Cornfield stood ahead of five of the seven, trailing only No. 87 Teremoana Beaucousin from A-Sun rival and 22nd-ranked Kennesaw State and No. 43 Zach Seabolt from Winthrop. Beaucousin leads the tournament at 9-under, while Seabolt is second at 6-under heading into Tuesday’s second round.
Cornfield played the first two rounds with Pacific’s Byron Meth who is the reigning USGA Public Links champion and who will play in this year’s Masters. Meth is ranked No. 96 in the country and Cornfield leads him by three strokes.
“Ryan played with all of the passion he usually gives and was in it despite a few bad breaks,” said Upstate head coach Todd Lawton. “He never lets those things break him, and that’s what makes him special. Unfortunately, the team scores are still nowhere near what we hope for. We have too many highs and lows during a round.”
Cornfield was on fire in the first round. He made six birdies en route to shooting a 4-under 68. He finished the first round tied for third. He began his round on the 10th hole and made three birdies with two bogeys to play the back nine at 1-under. He made three birdies and six pars on the front to end the round. He birdied two of his final three holes to shoot 4-under.
He again started the second round on the 10th hole. After making bogey on his second hole, he rallied for birdies on No. 13 and No. 15. He went out at even-par after another bogey on his first nine holes, but was set to make a splash on the front nine. He did just that, recording three birdies in the first five holes to move to -7 and into sole possession of second place. A double bogey on his next-to-last hole and a bogey on his final hole couldn’t dampen the day as he finished at even-par for his round and 4-under and in a tie for third in the tournament.
Cornfield’s efforts in the first round helped Upstate shoot 304 as a team. The Spartans counted scores of 68 from Cornfield, 78 from both Taylor White and Trey Taylor, and an 80 from Sebastian Lopez Bulla. Taylor posted three birdies during his round, Lopez Bulla had two and White had one. Andrew Purcell opened the tournament with an 85.
Cornfield again led Upstate in the second round as Upstate used his 72 to shoot 306. The Spartans counted scores of 72 from Cornfield, 74 from White, 78 from Lopez Bulla and 82 from both Taylor and Purcell. Only one of the rounds of 82 counted toward the team score. Cornfield made five birdies in his round, while White converted four. Lopez Bulla made two birdies and Purcell tallied one. The Spartans made 24 on the day.
Fourth-ranked Southern Cal leads the tournament with a 565 total heading into Tuesday’s final round. No. 22 Kennesaw State is second at 571 and is followed by No. 50 Winthrop (574), No. 57 Northwestern (578), No. 70 Sam Houston State (583), No. 85 BYU (583), Pepperdine (584), UC Irvine (586), Fresno State (590), No. 63 San Diego (592), No. 69 Georgia State (594), Lipscomb (595), No. 91 Pacific (602), Notre Dame (602) and Upstate (610) on the leaderboard. Although the Spartans are 15th, they entered the tournament as the lowest-ranked team in the field at No. 161.