A Real Opportunity: FAMU golf looking to reclaim glory at Sawgrass

Published: May. 3, 2021 at 7:05 PM EDT
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PONTE VEDRA, Fla. (WCTV) - 2000 was the last time Florida A&M won the PGA Works Collegiate Championship, the last time the Rattlers firmly cemented themselves at the top of the HBCU golf world.

But this week comes an opportunity to change that and prove much, much more.

A round of golf at TPC Sawgrass; a dream many a golfer would die for.

A dream well earned for the FAMU Rattler seniors and grad students who saw 2020′s hot start turn into a nightmare.

“Gracefully, the NCAA allowed us all to have an extra year of eligibility, so we’re back and we’re trying to make things right, you know?” Prince Cunningham, FAMU grad student said.

But with 2021, the dream is restored. The Rattlers have played the best season in program history, winning their first-ever MEAC title and earning their first-ever NCAA Tournament berth. But extending the season is the last thing on the Fangs’ mind, which is completely occupied by the task at hand.

”This is a heck of a golf course,” FAMU head coach Mike Rice said prior to their practice round Saturday. “The last thing we need to be thinking about is regionals coming down 17 and 18 out here so we’re gonna focus on this, win this, bring this home and then we’ll move on next week to focusing on regionals.”

This week, FAMU’s success will have a nationwide platform as the final round of the collegiate championship will be broadcast on Golf Channel.

For long-time golfers, like Cunningham - a Jacksonville native who has been documenting his life as an HBCU golfer on Instagram. He sees this week as just another opportunity to show the best and brightest minority golfers.

”When you see someone of my age and my color, we get asked so many times if we play basketball or football or I don’t even look like a golfer, I get that all the time so I just want to shed insight to it and show that we’re here and we’re really good,” he explained.

”I hope them young kids that look like Prince and Mulbe [Dillard] and Mahindra [Lutchman], I hope they see these guys because I can tell you the kids can play, they can really play,” Rice added.

A MEAC title, an NCAA Tournament and a week at Sawgrass. It may feel like a dream, but nothing could be more real.

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