LITCHFIELD PARK, Ariz. – University of Nevada, Las Vegas junior Caden Fioroni and San Jose State University graduate student Antonia Malate won their respective divisions of the 12th annual Patriot All-America Saturday at The Wigwam Golf Club, while University of Arizona senior Chaz Aurilia won the inaugural Thunderbolt at Sterling Grove Golf + Country Club in Surprise, Ariz. View the entire Patriot All-America leaderboard here, and The Thunderbolt leaderboard here.
Playing in the second-to-last group, Fioroni birdied five of his last seven holes on the Gold Course, including his last three in a row to tie the Patriot All-America Men’s Division low round with a 63 and take the lead into the clubhouse at -12. University of Oklahoma junior Ben Lorenz needed a birdie on 18 to force a playoff, but the Peoria, Ariz.-native’s putt fell short, setting off celebrations in the raucous 18th hole gallery and a slew of congratulatory high fives for Fioroni. Lorenz finished alone in second at -11, and a four-way tie for third featured 36-hole leader and fellow Sooner Stephen Campbell, Jr., Gabriel Salvanera of Arizona State University, Herman Sekne of Purdue University and Connor Jones of Colorado State University.
“I have no words right now, honestly I knew I was really behind today and this is the first time I never thought about my score,” said Fioroni, an All-Mountain West selection from San Diego, Calif. “I knew I needed to make as many birdies as I could. I was so much in the zone I didn’t realize until after the round that I shot 8-under. I’m kind of in shock right now – I don’t know what to say.”
Malate finished 54 holes of play tied for the lead with Arizona State University’s Grace Summerhays and Emma McMyler of Xavier University at -9 overall. The 36-hole leader Summerhays would be eliminated from the playoff after a par on the first hole (hole 18 of the Blue Course) fell short of the birdies made by Malate and McMyler. The duo would each birdie the next two playoff holes (both hole 18) before each reaching the 18th green in two on the fourth extra hole. McMyler just missed her 25-foot putt, while Malate buried her left-to-right 20-footer for eagle and the F-35 Lightning II Patriot All-America trophy.
“This is one of my bigger collegiate wins so I’m excited,” said Malate, a San Jose State University President’s Scholar from Seaside, Calif. “[Emma] played really well and made a lot of great putts. She made it hard for me, so I had to make an eagle to win.”
At Sterling Grove Golf + Country Club, Aurilia and Joseph Lloyd of Fresno State shot the same score for the third straight round, both firing 68-66-69 to finish the 54-hole event at -13 overall, three shots ahead of Aurilia’s Arizona teammate Calvin McCoy. On the second playoff hole, Aurilia made a 20-foot birdie putt to put the pressure on Lloyd. On the opposite side of the green, Lloyd’s 18-footer lipped out, leaving the Scottsdale native with his hands on his hips in disbelief. First round leader Andi Xu of the University of San Diego finished fourth at -8 overall, two shots better than two players at -6.
The highlight of the day came on the Blue Course, where Lilly Thomas of the University of Tulsa made a hole-in-one on the 9th hole, using an 8-iron from 143 yards to find the bottom of the cup. That led to a final-round 64 that lifted Thomas into a tie for 26th.
Among other players with Oklahoma ties, Leo Oyo of Oklahoma State tied for 36th in The Patriot after a final rouind 75, Dillon Stewart of OSU tied for 42nd at 2 over, Jaxon Dowell of OU shot three consecutive 72s to finish at 3 over, and Jared Strathe of Oral Roberts shot 7 over.
On the women’s side, Olivia Schmidt of Edmond and Arkansas State tied for 10th after closing with a 68 and Faith Belmear of Owasso closed with a 69 to tie for 56th.
In The Thunderbolt, James Roller of Tulsa and Texas Tech shot a final-round 1-under 71 to finish tied for 25th at even par.
The Patriot All-America honors fallen or severely wounded soldiers in partnership with the Folds of Honor Foundation. The golfers receive a golf bag donated by PING Corporation at the event’s opening ceremony emblazoned with the name and branch of service of a fallen or injured military member whom they shall represent. Participants also receive a card with the soldier’s story so they can be familiar with that soldier, giving many of the top players a unique perspective not only on golf, but on life. At the conclusion of the tournament, the golf bags are shipped to players’ schools and auctioned with all proceeds benefitting the Folds of Honor Foundation.
Named after the Air Force P-47 Thunderbolt, The Thunderbolt has been added to the tournament week schedule to accommodate players who met the initial eligibility but did not make it into The Patriot. The Thunderbolt consists of players who are ranked in the top 1000 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR), are PING Second, Third and Honorable Mention All-Americans from Divisions II, III, NAIA, and NJCAA, or are AJGA Second Team and Honorable Mention All-Americans.
For all information on the Patriot All-America and The Thunderbolt, visit patriotallamerica.com. For in-depth extended coverage of the Patriot All-America and The Thunderbolt, follow on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.