By Sebastian Moronta Blanco, Staff Writer
UMass Dartmouth hosted the 2017 Westport Hampton Inn Invitational this past weekend at the Allendale Country Club in North Dartmouth. The event hosted 18 teams and also served as a fundraiser to support DJ Bishop, a local student-athlete.
Bishop, a Westfield State Baseball student-athlete and Dartmouth High School graduate, suffered a spinal cord injury in a diving accident last year, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down. Since then, his road to recovery has been long but productive, attending physical therapy and workouts several days a week.
The Corsairs traditionally buys gifts for visiting players at their annual tournament, however this year that money will instead go to Bishop, mirroring a fundraiser the team held the previous year for Wareham teenager and brain cancer patient Trey Miranda.
“We’d like to put our best foot forward this year in terms of trying to raise funds for D.J. and his rehab,” said head coach Joel Baptista on the fundraiser. “That recovery is very expensive, with therapy and doctor’s visits he’s going through.”
The fundraiser, titled, “#BirdiesForBishop” called on visiting teams, coaches and spectators, as well as local businesses and individuals, to pledge donations and amounts per birdie stroke for the tournament, or pledge a flat donation. The Corsairs kicked off the fundraising with a $500 flat donation, and by the end of the invitational they’d raised over $2,000, 100 percent of which will go to Bishop and his family.
The Corsairs placed fifth overall in the invitational, with a score of 648 (+72). The Corsairs shaved 10 shots off last year’s score and finished five places higher as a team. Tufts took the first place spot with an overall team score of 620, and Tufts sophomore Owen Elliott took the individual title amongst 90 golfers with back-to-back rounds of 75.
UMass Senior Michael Byron finished tied for third in individual scoring with a score of 156 (+12). Byron tied the second-lowest individual score for the first 18 holes on Friday, with a score of 76 (+4), amidst howling winds. Juniors Jared Fadding and Bryce Mitchell followed Byron close behind putting up scores of 80 and 81 respectively.
With a team total of 319 following Friday’s competition, UMass Dartmouth held fourth place heading into the second round. On Saturday, Byron followed up with a score of 80 (+8), while Fadding shot 83, and Mitchell 90.
First-year Corsair Nick Avilla shot 84 on both days, while sophomore Jackson Mitchell put up back-to-back days of 82. Mitchell was the second-lowest scorer on day two of the invitational, behind Byron.
Junior Nick Lombardo and first-year Jon Soule both competed as individuals for UMass. Soule shot 82 on Friday and turned in 89 on Saturday, while Lombardo shot 84 in the first round and 85 in the second.
The Corsairs will compete next Friday at the Anchorman Spring Invitational, at Valley Country Club in Warwick, R.I.