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Virginia men’s golf cruises to runner-up finish at the Lewis Chitengwa Memorial tournament

Freshman Ben James earns his fourth first-place finish in just ten events this regular season

<p>James finished tied for first place with Florida State's Cole Anderson.</p>

James finished tied for first place with Florida State's Cole Anderson.

To wrap up its regular season, No. 21 Virginia men’s golf hosted the second annual Lewis Chitengwa Memorial tournament Monday and Tuesday. The Cavaliers dominated the invitational once again, coming in second place this year following their first-place win at the inaugural event in 2022. 

This tournament honors Chitengwa, former Virginia player who played from 1995 to 1998 and two-time All-American. He placed seventh in the 1996 NCAA Championships, which was the top finish for a Cavalier in 50 years. Playing professionally, Chitengwa competed on the Canadian tour but passed away suddenly at the age of 26 due to meningitis. He was inducted into the Mercedes-Benz Southern African Golf Hall of Fame following his passing and is remembered fondly for his contributions to golf at Virginia.

The Cavaliers constructed a lineup of freshman Ben James, juniors George Duangmanee and Chris Fosdick, graduate student Jack Montague and senior Pietro Bovari to compete against the 13-team lineup.

The beginning of the event was pushed back over an hour due to frost which made it a chilly start to the tournament. Despite the weather, the Cavaliers were able to start off playing hot. Teeing off with No. 6 Auburn and No. 7 Florida State in the opening round, the team had some tough competition, but the team performed well overall. Bovari in particular put on a clinic, shooting 7-under 64 to record his best collegiate round. He had eight birdies and shot 30 on the front nine.

The team proved their knowledge of their home course as James and Fosdick ended the day tied in seventh place. They each had rounds of 5-under 66 and even par 71s on Monday. Duangmanee finished his first two rounds in 26th place.

As a team, Virginia finished in second following the first day of play after posting a 12-under 272 and 6-under 284. The Seminoles led the event by 12 strokes.

The Cavaliers had a B-team participating in the tournament as well that found themselves in eighth place after the first two rounds. They were led by sophomore Deven Patel, who carded rounds of 70 and 68 to finish in 12th place at the conclusion of the first day. Juniors Jaron Leasure and Grayson Wotnosky and sophomores Benny Haggin and Matthew Monastero were also participating.

Virginia remained in second place during Tuesday morning’s round of golf and ended the tournament 14 strokes shy of Florida State.

James, for the fourth time this season, came in first place tying with Florida State’s redshirt junior Cole Anderson. He finished the tournament at 11-under 202 with a final-round score of 6-under 65.

“It feels great,” James said about his performance this week. “This is the one I really wanted. I had a lot of friends and family come out and it really means a lot to get a win here at Birdwood. Coach Sargent and Coach Groves helped me out a ton during the week and I can’t thank them enough. It was very special to win on your home golf course. It’s a dream.”

Bovari also performed well Tuesday shooting a 1-under 70 to place sixth. Duangmanee and Fosdick tied for 22nd and Montague shot a 2-over 215 to finish in 38th. Patel in Virginia’s B-team finished in 11th place with a third-round score of 2-under 69. The team finished eighth with a total score of 3-over-855.

The Cavaliers were able to finish their season with a strong home invitational, but the more important development was the fact that both an A- and B-team were able to play. This way, coach Bowen Sargent was able to see all players in action to create the best lineup possible for the postseason competitions.

The team hopes to continue their impressive play at the ACC Championships playing on the Dogwood Course at The Country Club of North Carolina in Pinehurst, N.C. beginning April 21.

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