VALDOSTA, GA – Junior John VanDerLaan had an opening-round 65 on Sunday, a score that would normally put a golfer in the lead, but with the type of field he and the Moccasins are facing at this year's Southeastern Collegiate, it was only good for second. That 65, however, was still enough to carry 3rd-ranked Florida Southern to fourth place at the end of the day, with the Moccasins trailing first-place Florida Tech by 11 shots.
VanDerLaan was the first Moccasin to complete his round after tearing up the course at Kinderlou Forest Golf Club Sunday morning and into the afternoon. It was the second time in the last three tournaments VanDerLaan had a 65 or better, and it was his fourth time in his last six rounds that he's been at 68 or better. One of his playing partners, West Florida's Chandler Blanchet, shot a 62 that featured 10 birdies. VanDerLaan had seven, and they were the only golfers in the 93-player field who did not have any bogeys, but the 62 was a tough score to match.
Next in was sophomore Christian Anderson with a 77, a score the Moccasins weren't sure they'd have to count at that point, but ultimately did as things played out over the remainder of the day. Anderson started with six bogeys on the first eight holes, but turned it around on No. 9 when he started a nine-hole stretch of two-under par golf that aided the Mocs' climb up the standings.
The Moccasins also counted 76s from junior John Coultas, the defending Southeastern Collegiate champion, and sophomore Michael VanDerLaan. Coultas started his round on the par-5 No. 2 covering nearly 600 yards and that hole accounted for eight of his 76 strokes. After that he was +1 for the rest of the day, and was even for the next 16 holes before a bogey on the last one. VanDerLaan was even for his first 10 holes Sunday, giving the Mocs a boost from his number five position in the lineup.
Freshman Chase Ibbotson had Florida Southern's fifth score with a 78. Much as Anderson did, Ibbotson rebounded from a slow start by playing his final nine holes at one-under, though his individual score was not used in the team score.
Even with the incredible round by Blanchet, top-ranked West Florida still had to settle for second place in the team standings at the end of the day. The Argonauts were one shot behind 9th-ranked Florida Tech, whose best golfer in the round, Jonas Kugel, shot a 66 that put him one stroke behind VanDerLaan in third. The Panthers, however, had a 71 and a pair of 73s from their other counters for a 283 (-5) team score, while the Argonauts had to count a 73, 74, and 75 outside of Blanchet's 62, which gave them a 284 (-4). Lynn, which is ranked No. 2 in the country, was in third place with a 288 (E) after counting nothing worse than a 75.
Florida Southern was six shots back of the Knights and leading a pack of six teams that are separated by a total four shots, and 11 teams separated by 10. Just one back of Florida Southern is No. 5 Barry, No. 17 Lander (SC) is two back of the Moccasins, and both No. 6 North Alabama and No. 19 Saint Leo trail the Moccasins by four shots. No. 13 Lee (TN) rounds out the top-10, and sits five shots behind Florida Southern.
The second round of the Southeastern Collegiate is scheduled to begin at 8:21 a.m. Monday morning, though Florida Southern will not begin play until 9:15.