SAN ANTONIO, Texas - Trailing the tournament leader by 12 strokes entering the final round, the University of Houston golf team used a solid effort from all six student-athletes in their lineup to take a 4-stroke win at the Lone Star Invitational on Tuesday afternoon.
The Cougars posted a dazzling team score of 13-under-par 275 to overcome the deficit and finished at 866, four strokes ahead of No. 35 North Texas on the 6,931-yard, par 72 Hill Country Resort Golf Club. It was the program's first outright tournament victory since winning the rain-shortened, 36-hole HBU Husky Invitational on Oct. 27, 2009, in head coach Jonathan Dismuke's first season. It was the Cougars' first outright, 54-hole tournament win since claiming the Kansas Invitational title on Sept. 17-18, 2007.
"We've talked about having a breakout round and running away with the rest of the field, and today was that round," said Dismuke, who suffered from flu-like symptoms throughout the day and was forced to visit a local emergency clinic for an IV early Tuesday morning. "Anytime you can post the low score of the day by 13 shots in the final round, that's a remarkable round of golf. This was a great way to cap the fall season, and I am ecstatic about getting some offseason work in and being better for the spring."
With the Cougars trailing by just two strokes and only a few holes remaining, sophomore Roman Robledo ended an impressive run with his fourth consecutive birdie on the par-5 fourth hole to put Houston to within a single stroke. Junior Curtis Reed closed out his tournament with a birdie on the fourth hole to move the Cougars into a tie as North Texas finished.
North Texas' lone remaining player on the course bogeyed his final two holes to seal the win for the Cougars.
"We pay close attention to our finishing and how we play the last two or three holes," the fourth-year head coach said. "Golf always seems to come down to those last few holes, especially when you are playing well. Roman and Curtis both came in with a strong finish. Everybody's finish today was spectacular."
All five student-athletes in the Cougars' starting lineup posted sub-par scores in the final round with junior Jesse Droemer's career-low-tying 67 leading the way. The Sealy, Texas, native birdied the 14th, 15th and 16th holes and added an eagle on the 560-yard, par-5 17th hole. Droemer added another eagle on the par-4 second hole to equal his low set at the HBU Husky Invitational on Oct. 24, 2011.
"Jesse just hit a lot of really good shots. He holed two wedge shots and hit so many quality shots throughout the day," Dismuke said. "It was the best round I have seen him play in tournament action."
Reed and Robledo each posted scores of 2-under-par 214 to tie for second for career-best finishes for each. Enjoying a final round with six birdies, Reed started his day on the fifth hole and nailed birdies on the seventh, ninth and 12th holes. Overcoming a triple bogey on the par-5, 15th hole, the Castroville, Texas, native rebounded to birdie No. 16 and added more on No. 2 and No. 4 with the final one pushing the Cougars into a tie.
Robledo saved his best for the end of his final round. Starting on hole No. 6, the Harlingen, Texas, native bogeyed the eighth hole but rallied with a birdie on the next hole. After playing holes No. 9 through 18 at even par, Robledo started the back nine with a birdie on the par-4 first hole and continued to put birdies on his scorecard until he reached the fifth hole.
Junior Wesley McClain fired a 1-under-par 71 in the final round and tied for 22nd with a score of 222. Overcoming a bout with flu-like symptoms that kept him off the course Monday, sophomore Kyle Pilgrim shot a career-low 71 and ended with a 36-hole total of 148.
Competing in his first collegiate event, freshman Vincent Martino tied for 14th with a score of 219. The Southlake, Texas, native opened his career with a 1-under-par and capped his stay with an even-par 72 in the final round.
Tuesday's win was just part of a successful fall season for the Cougars. Houston finished among the top-three team leaders in all four of their fall tournaments.
Individually, the Cougars now have 17 top-20 individual finishes through their first four tournaments. Houston enjoyed 18 top-20 individual finishes through the entire 2011-12 season.
"We have come a long way in a short time, especially when you consider that we finished last by eight shots at this tournament in 2009," Dismuke said. "We still have a long way to go but we are making great strides as our guys buy in and stay committed and we receive the support from our University, our former players and the entire golfing community in the city of Houston."
Following the Lone Star Invitational, the Cougars will send selected student-athletes to the HBU Husky Invitational on Oct. 22-23 at Quail Valley Golf Club in Missouri City, Texas. Dismuke will announce that starting lineup at a later date. It will be the Cougars' final competition of the fall season.