PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Charleston Southern's Jacques Wilson and Austin James recorded top-40 finishes to lead the Bucs to a 13th place showing at the season-opening Sea Best Invitational. No. 2 Florida finished at 4-under par 836 to win the event, played at the TPC Sawgrass Dye's Valley Course.
Wilson (T-30th) and James (T-36th) turned in CSU's best scores of Tuesday's windy third round in which no team finished in red numbers. Wilson, who fired an opening round 70, notched a two-over par 72 to finish just outside the top-third of the 83-player field. James rebounded from a 76 in Monday's second round to go level par on Tuesday. He posted four birdies as part of a three-under 32 on the back nine.
Florida entered Tuesday's action in front of North Carolina by a stroke but was able to open up its lead en route to besting second-place Lipscomb by nine shots. Liberty, the Big South's highest ranked team, placed third at 9-over par 849. The Flames' even-par 280 was the third round's best effort.
Ryan Orr of Florida won the individual title at 6-under 204, beating out teammate Alejandro Tosti by a stroke. The Gators had three players finish inside the top-ten.
CSU and Director of Golf Todd Selders also got another solid round out of junior Jake Ezell, who finished tied for 42nd at 11-over par. Ezell went one-under on the front nine, his final nine of the day, en route to a third-round 73. Selders is eager to see where the Bucs go from here as they build toward the Big South Conference Championship in April.
"Shaking off the rust is important," Selders said. "Getting back into competition after not playing since October (showed at times). It's the first tournament and we've got a long ways to go. Mainly, it was just fun to get out there competing again. It'll come around quicker than they realize. I think we'll be in really good shape, especially when we get to conference."
CSU got largely strong pockets of play from its top three players in Wilson, James and Ezell. James' final round was particularly good to see as he looks to regain the form that made him one of the nation's best players a year ago.
"He's (Austin James) on the Canadian national team and since he got back from playing with them this winter, it seems like he's got some of his confidence back," Selders said. "He really played well today but unfortunately had a bad finish. He senses and I think we do too that he's close to getting back to where he was last year."
David Eller and Dylan Patscot were the Bucs' other competitors. Eller highlighted his play with four birdies in a second-round 74.
CSU returns to action this Saturday, hosting the 36-hole Charleston Shootout at Kiawah Island's Osprey Point Golf Club.