Wednesday, April 21, 2010

FGCU Concludes Successful Two-week Run at Golf Championships

Paired in the final group with two of the nation’s top 31 programs could have unnerved the young FGCU Eagles. After all, they were only competing in their second Atlantic Sun Men’s Golf Championship and sophomores comprised 3/5 of their starting lineup. However, by the end of the round, the Eagles had usurped UNF for second place and were left wondering if with only a few more holes, they could have toppled ETSU.

Led by Brandon Pena’s sparkling 7-under 65, the Eagles turned in the second-lowest score of the week, a 6-under total of 282 that cut the ETSU winning margin to four strokes. Three of the five Eagles beat the Buccaneer in their respective pairing.

“We are really proud of what we did,” Pena said. “For the last two years that I’ve been here, we’ve talked about how we’re kind of unknown since we are so new, but that we have all the talent that any of these ranked teams do. I think our showing this week really proved that to everybody around. I think that we can compete on a regular basis with the teams like ETSU and UNF.”

Dr. Jim Suttie has spearheaded this confident group of Eagles. His résumé in golf instruction needs little introduction, but here comes one. He owns the Jim Suttie Golf Academy located at Cog Hill G. & C.C. in Lemont, Ill. and at Twin Eagles C.C. in Naples, Fla. Dr. Suttie has landed on the Golf Digest Top 50 Greatest Teacher Rankings every year since its inception in 2000. In the 2009 rankings, he stood at No. 15 on the list.

According to his Web site, his list of students including PGA TOUR stars Paul Azinger, Chip Beck, Loren Roberts, Brad Elder, David Ogrin and Mark Wilson. In March, a former Eagle, Derek Lamely, won the Puerto Rico Open becoming the first ever FGCU graduate to win a PGA Tour event.

“The program could not be where it is without ‘Doc’ [Suttie],” Pena said. “He’s brought more to the table for a program that’s so young than just about any other person you can think of. With what he’s brought and how much he works with us – he’s allowed all of us as players…to grow and get better, and that’s why we can compete with these teams.”

The run made by the men’s team caps off 10 strong days of A-Sun Championship play by the Eagles’ two programs. Last week at the Women’s Championship, FGCU led after the first day and Briana Carlson turned in a third-place showing. The men won three team titles during the fall and underclassmen Daniel Mazziotta (junior) and Patrick Williams (sophomore) each captured individual crowns.

“For us, it’s a confidence builder – it’s a building block for next year and the years after that,” Pena said. “The only person we are losing from this year’s team is senior Michael Hart and he’s going to be deeply missed, but we’ve got a strong team back home. I think just like we have the past couple of years, we can keep surprising people.”

With more results like Wednesday, the Eagles will soon lose the ability to surprise anyone again.

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