Paine golf team looks to build on SIAC title

Paine tries to build on title

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Frustrated with the sport, Victor Tapia kicked golf to the curb.

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Paine College golf team captain Ralph Godbee hits some practice shots at the Jones Creek driving range.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN
MICHAEL HOLAHAN
Paine College golf team captain Ralph Godbee hits some practice shots at the Jones Creek driving range.

The Morelia, Mexico native decided to focus on getting an economics degree at a college in his home country. Then, his buddy Carlos Solis called him.

Paine College needed another golfer, and Tapia took little time mulling the decision. With everything already in orders – SAT scores, passport, etc. – Tapia enolled in January.

“I like golf,” he said. “This is something I always wanted to do.”

The freshman golfer and his Lions teammates are enjoying golf a little more these days.

After winning the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Classic almost two weeks ago, Paine is shifting its focus to its biggest event of its season.

On Friday, the Lions will play in the NCAA Division II portion of the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship at PGA Golf Club, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. The 54-hole event runs through Sunday.

“I think we’re going to do well over there,” Tapia said. “We’re just enjoying the moment of winning this (SIAC) championship.”

Paine finished sixth in its lone appearance in the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship in 2009. When Herman Belton was hired to lead last year’s team, he vowed to take his team back to the event – when it was good enough to participate.

The Lions proved themselves in the SIAC championship at Jones Creek Golf Club. Trailing tournament defending champion Morehouse by three shots entering the final round, Paine rallied for a score of 340 for a 678 total and a five-shot win.

“We could’ve gone as a team last year, but I chose not to because the quality of play was not acceptable,” Belton said. “Now, we’re going to have a team truly representing the community and the school and we’re really excited about it.”

Solis was named SIAC Player of the Year, SIAC Freshman of the Year, and Tournament MVP after posting a two-day total of 155 in the conference championship.

Tapia earned all-conference honors, finishing second, one shot back.

With Solis and Tapia, along with teammates Patrick Mobley, a second-team all-conference selection, and Keith Godbee, sophomore Ralph Godbee won’t be by himself at the Florida event this time around.

Last year, Belton took him to the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship as an individual. He finished 22nd.

“The golf course we’re playing at is first class,” Godbee said. “It’s just like what the pros play on when they’re on TV.”

Paine has its sights set on bringing back a national championship to Augusta. But no matter how the Lions play this week, Solis said he and his teammates are going to soak in the experience.

“I think we have a chance for a good performance,” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re not trying to have high expectations. We’re just trying to do our best.”


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