May 10, 2012
PORT ST. LUICE, Fla. - After three grueling rounds among the best competition the NCAA has to offer, a little rest and relaxation should be in order.
Not for the Fayetteville State Broncos golf team.
Not long after celebrating Jacob Barge's qualifying for the NCAA Division-II Championship at the conclusion of play in the NCAA D-II Atlantic/East Super Regional in Hershey, Pa., the Broncos hopped into their rented van Wednesday evening and began the 470-mile trip back to the Fayetteville State campus.
But their ride didn't end there. Moments after a brief stay on the FSU campus after arriving at 2 a.m., the Broncos jumped into another van and continued their trek down the Eastern seaboard, some 630 more miles to the PGA Golf Club in Port St. Luice, Fla., where Fayetteville State will contend for their seventh PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship.
The 54-hole tournament will be played over the weekend, concluding on Sunday. When play is complete, the Broncos will have competed in six intense rounds of golf in a span of just seven days, with more than 1,100 miles of travel snuck in between.
In an even more astonishing test of mental fortitude, Barge (Jr., Fayetteville, N.C.), who finished fourth at the regional to qualify for the national tournament, will travel to Louisville, Ky., on Monday to compete in the NCAA Division-II National Championship at the Cardinal Club Golf Course from May 15-19. To get there, he'll endure another 560 miles - a trip scheduled to take 10 hours by car - though he should enjoy a flight this time.
Barge, who just completed his first year at Fayetteville State as a junior college transfer with a 3.5 grade-point average, may want to skip this math course: 14 days, 2,200 miles, 40 hours of travel (by car, 32 if a flight is involved), nine competitive rounds and three practice rounds.
And that doesn't include the time it takes to get home.
All in the name of golf. Championship golf.
The Broncos figure to contend at the D-II PGA Minority. Fayetteville State collected its 26th CIAA Championship under 13-time CIAA Coach of the Year Raymond McDougal
last month, and followed that with a strong 13th-place showing at the regional tournament, finishing just 15 shots back of the fifth-place qualifier for the national tournament.
The Broncos enter the tournament with four All-CIAA performers, including Barge and CIAA Player of the Year Brandon Jobe (Fr., Fayetteville, N.C.), who finished among the top half of the field at the regional. Jedidiah Frazier (So., Havelock, N.C.), Lincoln Jackson (Sr., Southern Pines, N.C.) - also named to the All-CIAA team -- and Mike Wallace (Sr., Fayetteville, N.C.) round out a balanced Fayetteville State team that won four tournaments in 2011-12.
Fayetteville State will see many familiar faces at the PGA Minority, including three other CIAA teams - Virginia State, Winston-Salem State and St. Augustine's. Virginia State won the tournament a year ago while Fayetteville State freshman John Michael Cole, who later transferred to Appalachian State, won the individual championship.
Fayetteville State has a rich history at the Minority championship, winning it four straight times from 2006 to 2009. The Broncos also captured the title in 1996 and 1996, and their six championships are the most in the history of the event (St. Augustine's won five straight from 1990-94).
This year will mark the 26th playing of the event, which originated in November 1986 following the Jackson State University Golf Tournament. It has elevated golf in minority colleges and universities by providing opportunities to more players to compete in a national championship.