Following a disappointing eighth place performance at the Linger Longer Invitational, No. 22 Virginia men’s golf traveled to Augusta, Ga. to play the 43rd edition of the Augusta Haskins Award Invitational at Forest Hills Golf Club. This tournament was held in the same city where the Masters, the first major of the year for the PGA Tour, will begin in less than one week. After a hot start, the Cavaliers finished third in the tournament.
The 15-team field has several prominent competitors, including No. 6 Illinois, No. 9 Texas, No. 12 Florida, No. 18 Oklahoma State and No. 19 Georgia Southern.
Virginia’s lineup included junior Chris Fosdick, freshman Ben James, junior George Duangmanee, senior Pietro Bovari and graduate student Jack Montague. Coach Bowen Sargent switched up the lineup for the first time in three weeks and replaced freshman Bryan Lee and sophomore Deven Patel with Bovari and Montague.
The first 36 holes were intended to be played Saturday starting at 8:30 a.m., but play was suspended due to darkness that evening. The first eighteen holes were played without incident and the Cavaliers snagged the lead with a 13-under 275.
Freshman Ben James, who leads the team with a stroke average of 69.67, finished the first round in second place after shooting 5-under 67 which included a hole-out for eagle on the 15th hole.
Bovari, who just moved up from playing individually last week, shot 4-under 68. Fosdick and Montague shot 2-under 72. Duangmanee was the only player to shoot over par, finishing the first round at 2-over 74. He struggled on the front nine, but was able to secure three birdies on the back to shoot 33. Four out of the five players had nine hole scores of 33 during the first 18 holes.
When their second round was cut short — Virginia players had between six and eight holes left — they sat in second place tied with Illinois at 16-under. They were five strokes shy of Florida.
James finished his second round at 7-under and was tied for second when the round was suspended. Bovari and Montague were both at 3-under, tied for eighth place.
The remainder of the second round was completed Sunday, where the Cavaliers shot an even par, dropping to third place. James was the only Virginia player to shoot under par for the second round, finishing with a score of 70, but no one shot worse than a 2-over 74 for the second act.
Sunday also held the last few holes of round two players who were unable to finish Saturday. The Cavaliers bounced back from a tough second round with an 11-under 277. Duangmanee had a particularly strong ending, shooting 5-under 67, while James shot a 4-under 68.
Overall, the Virginia team shot a 24-under 840 to earn the fifth top-three finish for the team this season. James finished in fourth place overall at 11-under 205. This would be the seventh time this season that he placed in the top four finishers.
Bovari and Montague shot 1-under 71 in their third rounds to place 15th and tied for 16th, respectively. Montague finished at 3-under 213 to tie his best collegiate tournament score. Duangmanee used his excellent final round to jump to 23rd, while Fosdick placed 28th with a 73 during his final round.
Florida senior Fred Biondi came in first place for the tournament shooting a 15-under 201, earning himself an invite to next year’s Valspar Tournament.
The Cavaliers has also been invited to the Valero Texas Collegiate, the first year that this tournament will take place. It will take place at TPC San Antonio the Oaks Course, a PGA Tour golf course, and the winner of the collegiate tournament will get an invite to the PGA Tour Valero Open event next year. Given the successful tournament, it will be interesting to see whether Sargent sticks with the new lineup of players for a longer duration.
Up next for the Virginia team will be hosting the Lewis Chitengwa Memorial April 10 to 11 at Birdwood Golf Course in Charlottesville.