DURHAM, NC – Senior Michael VanDerLaan was among the tournament leaders with an opening-round 71, and freshman Max Coutsolioutsos nearly matched that score for the Moccasins with a 72 in the second round as Florida Southern finished day one of the Rod Myers Invitational in 11th place. The Moccasins are the only Division II team in the season-opening tournament hosted by Duke University.
Playing its first tournament under new head coach Lee White, the Moccasins are part of an exclusive field that includes three top-25 Division I teams from the ACC. At the end of day one, those were three of the top four teams in the tournament, though it was Penn State from the BIG 10 with a one-shot lead over North Carolina. The Nittany Lions had a -11, with the Tar Heels at -10, Duke sitting third with a -2, and Florida State fourth at -1. Liberty was fifth at +3.
The Moccasins had nearly identical scores in each round with a 299 in the first and a 298 in the second. VanDerLaan, Coutsolioutsos and senior Christian Anderson were counters in both halves of Saturday's play, while freshman Seth Wright had a counting score in round one and junior Chase Ibbotson did that in round two.
VanDerLaan, the only one of the Mocs' three All-South Region players from last year who is back this year, played at that level again in Saturday's opening round. He shot a one-under par 71 in his first round of the season, which included five birdies. Four of those came during the second half of the round where he was three-under, and it put VanDerLaan in a tie for ninth place individually halfway through the day.
Florida Southern's next two counters in the first round were Wright and Coutsolioutsos who had scores of 74 and 76 respectively. Wright had matching nine-hole scores of 37 and ended his round with a birdie on the on the par-5 No. 9, while Coutsolioutsos knocked two strokes off his back-nine score on the front side.
Anderson was the Mocs' fourth counter in round one with a 78, but was even on the front side where the Moccasins had a team score of two-over, a 10-shot improvement. Seven of their nine birdies came on the front side, as did their only eagle, which came from Ibbotson who ended the opening round by doing that on the par-5 No. 9.
Later in the afternoon, Florida Southern had 13 birdies, 12 of which came from its four counters. This time it was Ibbotson who had the most with five, but was Coutsolioutsos who had the Mocs' best score with an even-par 72. He got there by playing the final eight holes at two-under with birdies on six and seven.
VanDerLaan and Anderson each had a 75, and Wright had a non-counting 80. They helped the Moccasins again play the front side at two-over, a six-shot improvement from the back in round two.
VanDerLaan was the Mocs' top golfer for the day with a 146 (+2) that has him tied for 25th. Coutsolioutsos is tied for 33rd with a 148 (+4) and Anderson is tied for 59th with a 153 (+9). Wright is tied for 63rd with a 154 (+10) and Ibbotson is 69th with a 158 (+14).
The individual leader was Florida State's John Pak, who shot a tournament-record 10-under par 62 in the first round and a 69 in the second. At one point Saturday morning, Pak birdied six consecutive holes and he had 11 in the round. He'll take a six-shot leader over Duke individual Harrison Taee into Sunday's final round, with Penn State's JD Hughes in third place. Pak is at -13, Taee at -7, and Hughes at -6.
Cincinnati's Mason Lenhart, who was not among the leaders, still had the best hole of the day. The redshirt freshman, who playing in the first tournament of his college career, aced the par-3 No. 12 in the morning round.
The final round at Duke University Golf Club is scheduled to begin Sunday morning at 7:55.