LAKELAND, FL – In a field crowded with top-flight teams and numerous All-Americans, Florida Southern seniors John VanDerLaan and John Coultas rose to the top Monday on the first day of the Matlock Collegiate Classic. With Coultas shooting a 65 in round one and VanDerLaan shooting a 65 in round two, the two senior All-Americans led the 2nd-ranked Moccasins to a team score of 20-under par and a five-shot lead over No. 12 Barry with one round remaining.
The scores were strong across the board with 10 teams breaking par on Monday, and the top four all at -11 or better. That represents the most under-par teams through two rounds since 1989 when it was still known as the FSC/ImperiaLakes Classic. The two-round record is 11, set in 1985. In addition to the team scores, there were 26 individuals under par, a number that if it holds up, would be the most in 23 years. Scores in the 60s were common, but two of the three 65s that were posted on Monday belonged to Florida Southern and it was enough to give the Mocs their five-shot advantage, and their best two-round score at the Matlock in team history.
Trailing Barry by four shots halfway through the day, the Moccasins were sparked by an almost unbelievable start by VanDerLaan, who birdied eight of the first nine holes to make the turn at seven-under. That 29 was a new Matlock record for nine holes, breaking the previous mark of 30 that had been shared by seven players, including Florida Southern's Mike Domalske in 1982, Case Gard in 2013, and Tim Crouch in 2013. With another birdie on 10, VanDerLaan dropped to eight-under and was chasing not only the Matlock record but the school record as well. He remained at eight under until a bogey on 17 put him at -7, and he finished there with a 65 that was one shot off the Matlock record accomplished by three players, including VanDerLaan in last year's final round.
Coultas' day got off to a rousing start when he parred No. 1 and followed with an eagle on the par-5 No. 2 hole. By the time he made the turn, Coultas was three-under and really turned it up on the back nine where he birdied 10, 13, 15, and 17 to post his own 65. That gave him a share of the lead, but it wasn't with VanDerLaan, who shot a 70 in round one and was tied for seventh. Instead, it was Barry's Jorge Garcia, a mid-year transfer from the University of Florida, who was playing in his first tournament for the Buccaneers.
Garcia, who started on No. 8, ended the first round with birdies on eight of his final 10 holes, including six in a row at one point. He too had a shot at the Matlock single-round scoring record of 64, but finished the first round with a bogey to give him a 65. Tied with Coultas for first place at that point, Garcia shot a 73 in the second round and ended the day tied for fourth at -6, three shots behind the Moccasin co-leaders.
VanDerLaan and Coultas each had scores of 135 (-9) at the top of the leaderboard, and it's not even the first time two Moccasins have done that through two rounds at the Matlock. It also happened in 2013 when Crouch (-13) and Gard (-9) were tearing up the course at Lone Palm and went on to finish 1-2 in the tournament.
Barry's Niclas Weiland was third with a 137 (-7), and was one of two golfers who had two rounds in the 60s Monday with a 69 and a 68. After that came Garcia, West Florida's Chandler Blanchet and Saint Leo's Riley Goss who were tied for fourth with scores of 138. Blanchet, the reigning NCAA Division II Player-of-the-Year, had a pair of 69s, and Goss had a 68 and 70. Goss was one of 13 players in the field to record an eagle Monday, but the only one with two, picking up both in the first round on the par-5 No. 2, and the par-4 No. 14.
Freshman Jacob Penny quietly had scores of 72 and 70 while playing in his first Matlock and was tied for 17th at two-under par 142. He birdied his first two holes and didn't fall back to even-par until a bogey on his final hole of the first round. At no point in either round did his score ever move above that, and his nine birdies were tied for sixth in the field of 75 with Coultas.
Junior Christian Anderson had scores of 73 and 71 Monday to tie for 27th with a 144. After he bogeyed his first hole of round two, Anderson either birdied or parred his final 17 holes of the day, the longest such streak for the Moccasins in either round, and a streak bettered only by Rollins' Sam Grindle, who played a bogey-free round in the opener with a 66.
Sophomore Chase Ibbotson was tied for 67th with a 154 (76-78) and was not a counter for the Mocs in either round.
Florida Southern's team score of 556 (-20) is the best shot by the Moccasins at any point in the Matlock in the last 23 years and it puts them within striking distance of their own team record at this tournament. The best final score the Mocs have ever achieved in any previous Matlock tournament was a -21 when they won it in 1995.
Florida Southern will play the final round on Tuesday with Barry and Nova Southeastern, holding a five-shot lead over the 12th-ranked Buccaneers and an eight-shot lead over the 4th-ranked Sharks. Top-ranked West Florida is in fourth place, trailing the Moccasins by nine shots, 3rd-ranked Lynn is in fifth place, 12 shots off the pace, and 9th-ranked Saint Leo and 10th-ranked Columbus State are tied for sixth, 14 shots behind.
The final round has an 8:30 a.m. shotgun start.