MELBOURNE, FL – Florida Southern College golfer John VanDerLaan has been voted the 2017-18 Sunshine State Conference Male Athlete of the Year. VanDerLaan won the 2018 NCAA Division II individual national title and led the Moccasins to a third-place finish.
Voting for the award is conducted among Athletic Directors, Senior Woman Administrators, Athletic Communication Directors, and Faculty Athletic Representatives from each of the 11 SSC member institutions.
The Southbury, Connecticut native spent the majority of 2017-18 as GolfStat's No. 1 ranked player, on the Golf Coaches Association of America's (GCAA) No. 1 ranked team in Division II. The VanDerLaan-fueled Florida Southern squad finished first in four tournaments and entered the NCAA match play finals as the No. 1 seed following stroke play. VanDerLaan, himself, won seven tournaments this past season, including the NCAA South Super Regional and National Championship. He saved his best performance for last, shooting a season-best 199 (66-68-65) to finish 17-under at the NCAA finals. A record for the stroke play championship.
Along with his seven victories, VanDerLaan registered nine Top-5 and 13 Top-10 finishes during his 2017-18 run. He also recorded a national-best 69.05 scoring average, becoming the first Moccasin to turn in a sub-70 average. In the annual GolfStat Cup competition, which takes into account a variety of statistical accomplishments, VanDerLaan went into the national finals ranked No. 4 among all golfers at every level of collegiate golf. Only three Division I golfers are ranked ahead of him, with the NCAA national tournaments still to be factored into those numbers.
SSC men's golf coaches voted VanDerLaan as the Golfer of the Year for a second consecutive year, making him the fourth student-athlete to win the award twice. From there, the accolades grew to GCAA All-Region, then GCAA First Team All-American, and finally to Jack Nicklaus National Player of the Year. With the national Player of the Year honor, VanDerLaan earned the right to play for an exemption into the PGA's Barbasol Championship by competing in the 2018 Barbasol Shootout against the Jack Nicklaus honorees from Division I, III, NAIA, and junior college. VanDerLaan, currently ranked No. 23 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, became the first Division II golfer to ever win the Barbasol Shootout by recording a three-under-par 67, finishing three shots ahead of the field.
VanDerLaan, a business administration major, earned CoSIDA Academic All-District honors this year and will be recognized on the SSC Commissioner's Honor Roll. He is the 16th Florida Southern student-athlete to be honored as SSC Male Athlete of the Year1 and first since 2015-16. He is also the eighth golf student-athlete to win Male Athlete of the Year2 since the award was established in 1987-88.
Complete Listing: SSC Athletes of the Year
1Previous FSC winners: John Coultas (Golf - 2015-16), Kevin Capers (MBB - 2014-15), Tim Crouch (Golf - 2012-13, 2013-14), Jeb Halfacre (Swim - 2010-11, 2011-12), Matt Stauch (Golf - 2009-10), Nick Diyorio (Base - 2004-05), Steve Sokol (Golf - 2000-01), Jeff Klauk (Golf - 1999-00), John Curley (Golf - 1995-96), Brett Tomko (Base - 1994-95), James Vida (Base - 1993-94), Derek Flowers (MBB - 1990-91), Kris Kearney (MBB - 1988-89), Jerry Johnson (MBB - 1987-88)
2John Coultas (FSC - 2015-16), Tim Crouch (FSC - 2012-13, 2013-14), Matt Stauch (FSC - 2009-10), Rob Oppenheim (Rollins - 2001-02), Steve Sokol (FSC - 2000-01), Jeff Klauk (FSC - 1999-00), John Curley (FSC - 1995-96)