TAMPA, Fla. — One of the most decorated high school golfers to come out of Western New York in recent history, Medina High School graduate Melanie Green is already making a name for herself at Division I University of South Florida.

And it only took one tournament for her to shine.

Led by Green’s spectacular opening tournament, the USF women’s golf team came out of the gates blazing to start their 2020-21 campaign and nearly held on for a tournament victory against a strong field earlier this month at the FAU Paradise Invitational at the Boca Lago Country Club course in Boca Raton, Fla.

USF sat atop the leaderboard after the first two rounds and was tied for the lead at 6-under par with Michigan State and Maryland with two holes to play in the final round, but the Bulls got bit by a difficult par-4, 17th hole and finished in fourth place, just behind No. 13 Vanderbilt in the 13-team field with a 2-under par total of 861.

The 54-hole team total broke the previous USF record of 864, set in 2015-16, by three strokes.

The freshman Green led the Bulls throughout, finishing second overall in her collegiate debut after firing rounds of 69, 69 and 73 for a 5-under par total of 211.

Maryland’s Virunpat Olankitkunchai won the tournament firing an 11-under 205 and a closing round of 69.

Green’s 36-hole total of 6-under par 138 is tied for the third-best all-time by a Bull, just two strokes shy of the record of 136. Her 54-hole total of 211 on the par-72, 6,076-yard course ranks as the seventh-best in program history, just four strokes of the record of 207 fired by her teammate Erika Smith in 2019-20.

“MG was solid start to finish and it was great to see her earn runner-up honors in her collegiate debut,” USF head coach Erika Brennan said of Green. “Her work ethic back home propelled her to an awesome finish. Coach (Dalton) Stevens and I are both amped for her.”

Michigan State won the tournament with a 6-under par total of 858 followed by Maryland (-5, 859), Vanderbilt (-4, 860), USF and North Florida (+6, 869) among the top five teams in a field that featured four Big Ten programs.

The Bulls’ opening round of 281 – led by 3-under scores of 69 shot by Green, junior Jessica Whitting (Perth, Australia) and senior transfer Shelby Brauckmuller (Auburndale, Fla.) – was a new program record for overall low round score and the 7-under par marked a record low team round to par. The 281 bettered the previous program low round record of 282 set in 2019-20 at the Princess Anne Invitational.

The 7-under par opening round bested the previous low round vs. par of 5-under set in 2018-19 at the FIU Pat Bradley Invitational. It marked the fifth time under third-year head coach Brennan that the Bulls bested the program’s low round team score record and the fourth time besting the team’s low round to par mark under Brennan. In all, the top five program team low rounds and top four team low rounds vs. par have all occurred under Brennan’s watch.

While at Medina, Green won the Mustangs’ first ever New York State championship as a junior and would go on to win the state title again as a senior. She would also compete well at the U.S. Amateur Championship and the Junior PGA Championship among other prestigious events.

Also during her illustrious high school career, Green captured the Section VI golf championship as a freshman in 2017, sophomore in 2018 and junior in 2019.

Then, after finishing third in the event as a freshman, she captured the state high school championship in both 2018 and 2019.

Her new coach at South Florida is definitely excited to have her as part of the team now.

“Melanie is a total workhorse and she came out firing,” Brennan said. “It was an incredible debut and one she will look to not only sustain but build on.”

Johnson Newspapers 7.1