By Andy Seeley
LECANTO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) — The UCF men’s golf team was one of just two to turn in scores of par or better in each round of the American Athletic Conference Men’s Golf Championship, which wrapped up Monday afternoon at Black Diamond Ranch. The Knights took third place as a team, while senior Linus Vaisanen and sophomore Federico Zucchetti each tallied Top 5 individual finishes.
The Knights turned in rounds of 285 (-3) 288 (E) and 283 (-5) to finish 8-under par. South Florida ran away with the team championship and the individual title. The Bulls were 27-under and led by medalist Ryan Fricker (-11). SMU took second place with a 14-under total.
The Knights came in ranked sixth among the 10 conference teams, but turned in one of their best outings of the season.
“Obviously, this year’s been a bit of a struggle,” head coach Bryce Wallor said. “We talked hard about our record in the past, what we’ve done in the past, the strong finishes, third being our worst finish (in conference play). I told them we wanted them to fight for every single spot and you could see that today.”
Vaisanen paced the Knights, tying for third place at 7-under with scores of 70 (-2), 68 (-4) and 71 (-1). He was one of only three players to be under par in all three rounds.
“I had a little bit of trouble at the beginning of my round,” Vaisanen said. “But I got it going after that. I’m very pleased. I feel my golf game is starting to get better.”
Zucchetti bookended scores of 69 (-3) around a second-round 73 (+1) to finish tied for fifth at 5-under.
“It’s a good finish,” Zucchetti said. “Fifth in the conference is really good. I played well in the first round. Yesterday was a little bit rough and today I started with a double bogey, which wasn’t really good. But then I made some good birdies.”
By virtue of finishing in the top seven at The American’s championship event, both Vaisanen and Zucchetti earn all-conference honors. Wallor said they earned that distinction.
“Fred and Linus both had a nice start to the Fall, then came out this spring and struggled early,” he said. “They just kept working hard, both guys. I’m really proud of them for every day, going out putting the work in and mentally trying to figure it out. This week, it looks like they did that.”
Freshman Manuel Elvira carded a score of 2-over for the tournament to tie for 18th place. He opened with a 2-under 70 and wrapped up with consecutive scores of 74 (+2). Sophomore Ryan Stovash struggled with a 79 (+7) in the first round, but came back strong with a 73 (+1) and 69 (-3) to tie for 25th. Senior Jose Joia rounded out the Knights’ lineup, tying for 41st after finishing 13-over for the event.
|UCF Results – American Athletic Conference Championship|
|Name||Rd 1||Rd 2||Rd 3||Total|
|T3 Linus Vaisanen||70 (-2)||68 (-4)||71 (-1)||209 (-7)|
|T5 Federico Zucchetti||69 (-3)||73 (+1)||69 (-3)||211 (-5)|
|T18 Manuel Elvira||70 (-2)||74 (+2)||74 (+2)||218 (+2)|
|T25 Ryan Stovash||79 (+7)||73 (+1)||69 (-3)||221 (+5)|
|T41 Jose Joia||76 (+4)||79 (+7)||74 (+2)||229 (+13)|
|Team Results – American Athletic Conference Championship|
|School||Rd 1||Rd 2||Rd 3||Total|
|1. USF||282||275||280||837 (-27)|
|2. SMU||289||288||273||850 (-14)|
|3. UCF||285||288||283||856 (-8)|