PAWLEY'S ISLAND, S.C. – Gardner-Webb finished in a tie for third at the 2016 Golfweek Program Challenge, firing a three-day score of 842 to finish 22 under par for the event.
The Runnin' Bulldogs (278-290-274-842) finished 10 shots behind team champion Jacksonville and just six shots back of Big South Conference member Campbell. GWU tied with James Madison for third place.
Gardner-Webb shot its best round of the event on Tuesday, carding a 14-under par as a team. The tournament was played on the 6,982-yard True Blue Golf Club on Pawley's Island.
A total of 16 NCAA Division teams participated.
Aaron Thomas and Vincent Blanchette led the way individually for Gardner-Webb, with Thomas finishing in a tie for fifth and Blanchette moving into a tie for seventh. Both golfers had their best rounds on Tuesday, with each firing a 67.
Thomas carded a 68 on Sunday and was at par on Monday with a 72 – setting up his big round on Tuesday. Thomas holed five birdies on the day, doing so on the first, third, seventh, ninth and 12th holes. He did not go over par on any hole Tuesday.
Blanchette heated up midway through the front nine on Tuesday, carding birdies on five of his final seven holes to shoot a sizzling 32 heading into the turn. He birdied the 10th to move to 6-under par, but ran into trouble with bogeys on the 12th and 16th holes.
Blanchette recovered to birdie the 18th to finish even par on the back nine and move into a tie for seventh.
Kennedy had his best round on Sunday, shooting a 69 to finish one stroke back of Thomas. He carded a 73 on Monday and recovered with a 72 in the final round to finish at 214 for the tournament. Jones was at his best on Tuesday, overcoming a tough Monday (75) with a sensational 68 over the final 18 holes.
Jones finished one stroke back of Kennedy after carding four birdies on Tuesday – two on the front nine (3rd, 5th) and two on the back (12th, 14th).
Jonathan Henry rounded out the quintet for Gardner-Webb, finishing 51st (74-73-74-221).
The Gardner-Webb men will take a break from outside competition for three weeks before heading to Chapel Hill, N.C., for the Tar Heel Intercollegiate Tournament (October 7-9) at Finley Golf Course.
GARDNER-WEBB (t-3rd) – 278-290-274 (842)
Aaron Thomas (68-72-67-207) – t-5th
Vincent Blanchette (69-72-67-208) – t-7th
Jake Kennedy (69-73-72-214) – t-22nd
Chris Jones (72-75-68-215) – t-24th
Jonathan Henry (74-73-74-221) – t-51st