Virginia golfers come out strong, but chasing red-hot Florida State in Chitengwa at Birdwood

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Photo: UVA Athletics

Virginia men’s golf coach Bowen Sargent hopes his No. 21-ranked Cavaliers can string together a strong, finishing third round in Tuesday’s second Lewis Chitengwa Memorial at Birdwood Golf Course and use it as a springboard into postseason play.

In fact, Sargent’s team surpassed last year’s winning score of 15-under par with one round to go, but nobody expected No. 7 Florida State to come in and smoke the competition with a 30-under-par showing. The Seminoles are at 538, a clear dozen strokes ahead of UVA at 272-284–550, and third-place Auburn (No. 6 in the nation) at 554.

“No doubt Florida State has made it tough, they’ve built a pretty good lead,” Sargent said. “We’ll have to play a lot better tomorrow to get back in it and probably need a little help from them as well. Crazier things have happened, but we’ll give it our best.”

Final round play begins at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. Live scoring is at

Senior Pietro Bovari led Virginia at 5-under 136 for Monday’s two rounds of play, good enough for sixth place individually. After opening with a collegiate-best, 7-under 64, Bovari finished with a 1-over 72 in the afternoon round. Freshman Ben James and Chris Fosdick are tied for seventh at 137. James posted rounds of 66 and 71, with Fosdick on his heels at 71 and 66.

Northwestern’s David Nyfjall and Florida State’s Luke Clanton paced the field Monday with 8-under 134s.

UVA’s B-Team was led by Deven Patel at 4-under 138 with rounds of 70-68, good for 12th place (See individual and team scoring below).

FSU’s results blew everyone away. Even Sargent expected -20 would win the event. Still, his team is -12 with one round to go, most likely beating last year’s tournament-winning total.

“We played a lot better in the first round Monday. In fact, Ben and Pietro played awesome in the first round,” Sargent said. “It’s hard to finish 64 and 66 and follow it up with a good second round the same day.”

Sargent said with the ACC Tournament set for legendary Pinehurst, that the Chitengwa serves as a good test as his Cavaliers head into the postseason.

“Martin Winters (Birdwood’s director of golf), Matt Wade (superintendent) and their staff really stepped it up for this event,” Sargent said. “This year’s field really got better with the addition of Florida State and Auburn, which really strengthens the field.

“Have heard nothing but good feedback on the course from the coaches and players. I think word spreads among coaches and hopefully we can sustain it into year three and four, but guys seem to really like the course. This is as good as I’ve seen it play since I’ve been here.”

James, Virginia’s highly-touted freshman (No. 6 nationally by Golfweek), was delighted with his opening round of the tournament, especially being 5-under through his first eight holes.

“I kind of stalled out a little bit after that and hit some poor iron shots,” James said about his 5-under 66.

In his second round, an even-par effort, he suffered a double-bogey on No. 10, followed by a bogey on No. 11, but bounced back strong with birdies on 15, 16 and 17 before finishing with a bogey on 18.

“It was a good finish and it could have been worse, so I’m looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow,” he admitted.

James said his short game was solid throughout the day with good putting and wedge play.

“I rolled it really good today, hit my lines in almost every spot. My speed was off a little bit but my lines were good,” James said. “A couple of long irons kind of let me down a little bit and that’s why I couldn’t take it deep, but it is what it is.”

He said while his putting let him down a little earlier in the spring, that it’s heating up at the right time.

“I know I’m a great ball striker, so I think it’s slowly getting there,” James said. “I’m excited to get ready for postseason and the team’s game is good. I know we’re itching to get out there.”

While normally, collegiate golfers play without crowds, that wasn’t the case Monday and James certainly noticed.

“Having all the people support me from the school was great,” James said. “I saw President (Jim) Ryan here, so it was a big honor for him to come out and follow me. It was nice that my girlfriend could come out, which was the first time she saw me play, so that was nice. Some friends, parents. So just having the crowds was pretty cool.”

Lewis Chitengwa Memorial
Birdwood Golf Course
Charlottesville, Va.
Par 71, 7,116 yards
Second-Round Results

Team Results
1. Florida State — 264-274-538
2. Virginia — 272-278-550
3. Auburn — 280-274-554
4. Arkansas — 270-285-555
5. Jacksonville — 278-282-560
6. Northwestern — 278-283-561
7. Kentucky — 287-278-565
8. Virginia-B — 279-288-567
9. Virginia Tech — 278-290-568
10. Loyola (MD) — 288-287-575
11. St. Mary’s (CA) — 282-295-577
11. UNCW — 289-288-577
13. Texas State — 288-299-587
14. East Carolina — 295-295-590
14. Kennesaw State — 296-294-590

Individual Leaders
1. David Nyfjall, Northwestern — 66-68-134
1. Luke Clanton, Florida State — 66-68-134

Virginia Results
6. Pietro Bovari — 64-72-136
7. Ben James — 66-71-137
7. Chris Fosdick — 71-66-137
26. George Duangmanee — 73-74-142
43. Jack Montague — 71-66-145

Virginia B-Team Results
12. Deven Patel — 70-68-138
14. Jaron Leasure — 68-71-139
40. Grayson Wotnosky — 70-74-144
49. Benny Haggin — 71-75-146
73. Matthew Monastero — 72-82-154