FIU’s women’s team won the Pat Bradley Invitational on Tuesday, and the Panthers have somebody they need to thank. That would be Pat Bradley, the golfing legend the tournament was named after.
Bradley, who won six major LPGA championships and is a World Golf Hall of Fame member, watched the past few days in Sarasota like a proud parent as the FIU women proved themselves to be a power.
“I’m just so impressed with these young ladies and what they are doing,” said Bradley, who is the aunt of PGA Tour star Keegan Bradley. “It was heart-warming watching them play.
“I was with them last night, and do you know what they were doing? They were doing their homework. It was just so impressive.”
The FIU golfers would not be in the position they are in without Bradley’s pioneering.
Bradley, 61, was the first person signed to a golf scholarship by FIU in the early 1970s. Making her situation most interesting was the fact she was the one and only golfer on the FIU team, competing only as an individual. She was the person who started it all. No wonder they named a tournament after her.
“I was the very first,” Bradley said with a laugh. “To put it mildly, it was a bit of a pioneer venture. Back then, FIU was just introducing itself to the world, and I heard they were looking for a golfer, and I was looking for a school.”
“FIU was very embracing,” Bradley said. “I had a great time at FIU. The school was a wonderful family.”
She remembers those times fondly.
“There was only one building at the school in those days,” she recalled. “It was a wonderful time.”
Today, FIU has the seventh-largest enrollment in the United States with 50,000 students.
“All the right things came together,” Bradley said. “That’s how I got to where I am. I am so proud of my school.”
And the school is extremely proud of Bradley. And this year’s golf team paid homage to Bradley on Tuesday with its victory in the 35th Annual Pat Bradley Invitational. The Panthers shot a third-round 2-under-par 286 en route to a second team title in a row and eighth title overall since the tournament began in 1977.
FIU finished the 56-hole event on the Cypress Links course at the Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club near Sarasota with a 12-over 876 total. That 876 total ties for the second-lowest team total in the history of the event and was 26 strokes ahead of tournament runner-up Cincinnati at 902.
FIU freshman Meghan MacLaren, from England, won the individual medalist honors with a 2-under 70 on the final day to record a 1-over 217 over the 54 holes. The title was MacLaren’s second in three tournaments during her fledgling collegiate career. She also won the 2012 Wolverine Invitational in Ann Arbor, Mich., during her FIU debut in September.
FIU has won individual medalist honors 12 times in the history of the Pat Bradley Invitational.
FIU next travels to the Rainbow Wahine Invitational Oct. 30-31, hosted by the University of Hawaii, on the island of Oahu.
The Davie Golf and Country Club will be host for the First Annual Wackiest Golf Outfit contest. Golfers are encouraged to wear their Halloween weirdest. None of that stuffy collared-shirt stuff. Prizes will be awarded for the best-dressed (weirdest-dress might be more appropriate) on Sunday between 7:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. For information and tee time reservations, call 954-797-4653 or log on to the Davie Golf and Country Club website at www.golfdavie.com.