Sept. 24, 2013
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Saving its best for last, the University of Houston Men's Golf team posted the lowest total for the third straight round Tuesday to win the team championship at the Fighting Irish Gridiron Classic.
Less than a day after firing team scores of 282 and 283 in the first two rounds, the Cougars combined to shoot 4-under-par 280 and won their first outright team title at this event with a score of 847. The Cougars shared the team championship with Saint Mary's (Calif.) in 2011.
"It was a great effort by everyone both days," Director of Golf Jonathan Dismuke said. "Anytime you can have the low round of the tournament for all three rounds, it's just a tremendous performance. Everyone contributed."
Individually, junior Kyle Pilgrim collected the first championship of his career, thanks to a career-low 66 in the final round to finish at 5-under-par 208. Making his season debut, Pilgrim played a masterful round for the best finish of his career on the 7,023-yard, par-71 layout at the Warren Course.
The Colleyville, Texas, native started his day with a birdie on the first hole and went on to drain four more birdies during the next 14 holes. After his lone bogey on the 345-yard, par-4 16th hole, Pilgrim rebounded with his fifth and final birdie of the day on the par-5 17th hole and capped his tournament with a par.
He became only the 29th player in school history to shoot 66 or lower in a round. It was the lowest round by a Cougar since current teammate Roman Robledo fired a 65 in the second round at the Conference USA Championships on April 22, 2013.
"Kyle had a tremendous round and made so many quality shots all day long," Dismuke said. "With a 66 in the final round, that's going to be something he will remember for the rest of his life."
Sophomore Blair Hamilton finished in a tie for second and battled with Pilgrim for the individual lead throughout the back nine. While the Burlington, Ontario, Canada, native slipped a bit on the back nine finish in a tie for second with Georgia Southern's Will Evans at 4-under-par 209, he posted a career-best tournament finish.
"Blair is continuing the momentum from his summer," Dismuke said. His development has been awesome to watch during the last three months. You can see him becoming more and more comfortable in tight situations down the stretch."
In mid-August, Hamilton competed at the U.S. Amateur Championship and advanced to the Round of 32, becoming the first Cougar to accomplish that feat since 1999.
Playing as an individual, sophomore Vincent Martino drained six birdies for a season-low 68 in the final round and finished fourth at 3-under-par 210. He posted three birdies with only one bogey on his back nine on the way to setting personal bests with his finish and 54-hole total.
"Vince put three really solid rounds together and gave himself a good chance to win his first college tournament," Dismuke said.
Robledo tied for 24th with a score of 220, while senior James Ross tied for 27th at 221.
The Cougars entered the final round with a 10-stroke lead over Georgia Southern and continued to build on that advantage throughout the day. Houston started the day on a positive, playing the front nine as a group at -4.
"Playing with a was one of the things we talked about last night," Dismuke said. "We didn't want to focus and think about what everyone else was doing. We went out there trying to post the best score we could."
It was the Cougars' sixth team title under Dismuke's leadership. Other team championships include: 2013 Conference USA Championships, 2013 Border Olympics, 2012 Lone Star Invitational, 2011 Fighting Irish Gridiron Classic (co-champions) and the 2009 Husky Invitational.
This marks the third straight season that the Cougars have won at least one team title. A year ago, Houston won three team crowns, including the 2013 Conference USA Championships.
The Cougars also continued their success at the Fighting Irish Gridiron Classic. Competing at this event for the fifth straight season, Houston has never finished below sixth on the team leaderboard.
Michigan State finished second at 862. Yale (867), Georgia Southern (868) and Davidson (869) rounded out the top-five team leaders.
Following the Fighting Irish Gridiron Classic, the Cougars wrap up their fall season when they compete at the David Toms Intercollegiate, hosted by LSU at The University Club in Baton Rouge, La. It will be the team's fourth and final event of the fall.
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