Braselton, Ga. – Buoyed by an inspired final round from Ryan Cornfield and a tremendous tournament effort from Sebastian Lopez Bulla, USC Upstate finished fourth in the A-Sun Men’s Golf Championship Tuesday afternoon on the Legends Course at the Chateau Elan Resort. It marked the program’s best finish in seven appearances in the tournament.
After battling the weather for the first two days of the championship, the A-Sun Men’s Golf Championship finished the first round Tuesday morning, started and finished the second round by early afternoon and started and finished the final round as well, making the final day of the tournament a marathon for the golfers. In the end, Upstate stood strong for its best-ever finish in the championship.
The first round of the tournament scheduled for Sunday was washed out completely with the hopes of playing 36 holes Monday and 18 Tuesday. However, play was halted after only 14 players completed the first round Monday, pushing the completion of the 54-hole tournament to Tuesday.
Upstate started strong in the first round and rose to second place during the round. The Spartans finished the first round in third place and the second in fourth. With Florida Gulf Coast trying to make a push, the Spartans stayed strong in the final round to claim fourth place.
“This was by far our best start and strong finish in the conference championship,” said Upstate head coach Todd Lawton. “We had strong performances across the board and everyone contributed. From Sebastian’s 68 in the first round to Ryan’s 66 in the final round, we competed as a team and the guys should be proud. We are still young and return all of our starters next year. This was a solid championship for sure. We have already discussed ways to improve and work toward a win next year. I like that kind of attitude.”
Beginning his round on #10, Cornfield got off to a fast start and birdied five of his first nine holes to go out in 4-under. After a bogey early in his second nine, he birdied his final hole to shoot 4-under 66 to lead the Spartans in the final round. Upstate counted scores of 75 from Taylor White, 76 from Lopez Bulla and 80 from Tom Schofield as well to shoot 297. Cornfield finished tied for ninth (215) for his best finish ever in the event following back-to-back ties for 16th the last two years. He tied Adam Goins (2013) for the best Spartan finish in the A-Sun Championship since Josh Gallman finished third in 2010. He improved his position on the leaderboard by eight places in the final round.
Lopez Bulla shot a 76 in his final round to shoot 217 for the tournament and finish in a tie for 11th. It marked his top finish in three appearances in the championship, following last year’s tie for 21st and a 44th-place finish in 2013. White finished tied for 15th after rounds of 75, 74 and 75 (224) for his best finish in two appearances in the championship. Three Spartans finished in the Top 15.
North Florida, ranked No. 26 in the country, shot a final round 277 to win the team championship over No. 24 Kennesaw State. The Ospreys finished with an 849 total and won the title by seven strokes over the Owls (856). Lipscomb finished third at 860 and was followed by Upstate (883), Florida Gulf Coast (899), Jacksonville (903), Stetson (909) and Northern Kentucky (937). UNF’s Austin Padova won the individual championship with a 3-under 207 total.
Upstate stood in a tie for second when first round play was halted Monday and finished the first round in third place after shooting 289 in the round that finished Tuesday morning. Lopez Bulla led the way and entered the second round in second place individually after shooting a 2-under 68. The Spartans also counted rounds of 72 from Ryan Cornfield, 74 from Tom Schofield and 75 from Taylor White.
Play continued in the second round and Upstate remained one of the top teams in the tournament. The Spartans shot 297 and slipped one position into fourth place. They counted scores of 73 from Lopez Bulla and Trey Taylor, 74 from White and 77, which was shot by both Cornfield and Schofield. Lopez Bulla and Taylor each birdied three holes in the round to lead the team with rounds of 73. For his part, Lopez Bulla stayed in the hunt to battle for the individual title and finished the second round in a tie for fourth. Upstate entered the final round of the day 10 strokes back of Lipscomb in third and four shots ahead of Jacksonville in fifth.
Entering the tournament ranked No. 142 among all golfers in NCAA Division I, Cornfield looked to play himself into position to earn an individual berth in the NCAA Regionals. He has put together a solid resume, including a 4-4-1 head-to-head record against players ranked in the Top 20 and an individual tournament win in the Wendy’s Kiawah Classic in the fall. The NCAA Regionals will take place in mid-May.