MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (Seminoles.com) – Led by junior Jamie Li’s marksmanship on Wednesday, the fifth-seeded Florida State Men’s Golf team put together a tremendous performance by shooting 9-under in the final round of the Myrtle Beach Regional at TPC Myrtle Beach.
However, Florida State’s 7-under overall score (286-292-279) fell one stroke shy of being in the Top five needed to advance to next week’s NCAA Championship. Valiant until the very end, it marks the second straight year that the Seminoles have missed the NCAA Championship by one stroke.
“All Seminoles should be proud of this golf team,” FSU head coach Trey Jones said afterward. “The way we carried ourselves, the work ethic, the culture we have is something to be proud of as a coach, as well as all of us associated with the program. To come up close to reaching the finals definitely hurts, but knowing what these guys did and the sacrifices they made… Some challenges they had this year and overcoming them, and not making excuses about anything we didn’t have, was a tribute to this entire golf team.”
“I’m really honored to be their coach, and to be someone who had an opportunity to coach them.”
Junior Jamie Li strung together the best round of his Seminole career, shooting a 7-under 65 and finishing third overall at 11-under (70-70-65). Li’s 65 is the lowest by a Seminole in NCAA post-season play since Michael Hebert shot a 64 in the final round of the 2010 Central Regional. It ties for the second-lowest round in FSU NCAA post-season history.
In many circumstances, Li’s third-place finish would have qualified him as an individual for the NCAA Championship. In the men’s golf game, only the top player from each regional whose team did not qualify advances to the final. Oregon’s Edwin Yi, who placed second at 14-under, qualified for the final because his team finished outside the Top-5 threshold in seventh place.
The Bath, England, native carried the Seminoles all week and caught fire in Wednesday’s final round. After shooting 35 on the front nine (holes 1-9 on Wednesday), Li registered six birdies over his final nine holes to mark a 30 on the back nine. He began the stretch with three consecutive birdies on holes 10-12, and finished the tournament with a birdie on the par-5 18th.
“Hats off to Jamie Li for playing a great tournament – a final-round 65 to give us an opportunity,” Jones added. “Greyson Porter had a horrific hole on his third hole of the day and coming in as a substitute, and to make six birdies after that is a huge testimony to who he is as a person and the fighter and competitor that he is.”
Li led all golfers in par 4 scoring over his three rounds played, with an average score of 3.77. He shot 7-under collectively on the par 4 holes.
But as Li wrapped up his final hole to solidify FSU’s final score, fifth-place UNLV sealed its Top 5 finish. Illinois won the regional at 25-under, followed by Ohio State (-20), Wake Forest (-15) and California (-14).
Li’s previous low this year was a 67 he shot at the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate Invite from Oct. 19-21. His 65 ties for the second-lowest round by a Seminole this spring season.
Junior Greyson Porter ended his season on a high note, shooting a 3-under 69 in a fill-in role on Wednesday. His lone blemish was a quadruple bogey at the third hole, but his strong finish, which included seven birdies in the round helped give the Seminoles a fighting chance.
Senior Corey Carlson ended his career by tying for 27th at 1-over, shooting a final-round 74. Freshman Calvin Sierota tied for 35th and shot an even-par 72 on Wednesday, nabbing two birdies in the final four holes to keep FSU within striking distance of UNLV to the very end.
“Calvin learned a lot this year, and he’ll take what he learned into summer,” Jones said. “The player that Calvin was when he arrived in August to who he is now is not even close.”
Sophomore John Pak shot 4-over for the tournament to tie for 35th. He finished the final round with three straight birdies to aid FSU’s close finish. Pak’s season-ending scoring average of 69.56 is the lowest in FSU Men’s Golf single-season history, punctuating arguably the greatest year by a Seminole.
“John didn’t have a great week but he had arguably the best season of anyone we coached. This is team golf and we have to pick each other up and look out for each other, and John did not play like he wanted to play this week and he’ll learn from that as well,” Jones added.
Wednesday’s finish also concludes the careers of seniors Bennett Baker and Carlson. Both student-athletes were part of big moments over their four years that have helped Florida State Men’s Golf stay among the premier programs in the country.
“Our seniors were phenomenal all season, from being the first ones to practice to always wanting to know how they could help the team,” Jones said. “They’re great Seminoles and we know they’ll do well, and we look forward to watching their success.”