CONOVER, N.C. - Florida Southern will begin its quest for its 13th national championship trophy in men's golf here Monday afternoon on the Jones Course at the Rock Barn Golf & Spa as the Moccasins open up play in the 2015 NCAA Division II Men's Golf Championships.
The Moccasins, who are the No. 6 seed from the South/Southeast Region, will tee off in a group of golfers from Indianapolis (No. 5 seed from the Central/Midwest Region) and five of the eight individual qualifers from the No. 1 tee beginning at 12:55 p.m. on Monday, May 18 for the opening round and then those same groupings will tee off from the No. 10 tee on Tuesday, May 19 for the second round beginning at 8:36 a.m.
FSC, who is making its record 36th appearance in the NCAA D-II National Championships and its first since 2013 when the Mocs won the stroke play portion of the championships, before falling in the quarterfinals of the match/medal play round to Western Washington, is seeking to add to its NCAA record haul of 12 national championships in men's golf, with its most recent title coming in 2010 in Noblesville, Ind. Besides 2010, the Mocs other national championships came in 1981, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1990, 1991, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000.
Despite not winning a team national title in men's golf since 2010, former Moccasin golfer Tim Crouch claimed the past two individual Division II National Championships as he won national titles in 2013 in Hershey, Pa., and in 2014 in Allendale, Mich. The Mocs have now had eight individuals win national championships and Crouch is one of three Division II golfers to ever win back-to-back individual national championships.
This year's national championship field in Conover includes 20 teams and eight individuals from four combined super regional tournaments. The tournament will begin with 18 holes of stroke play for three days for a total of 54 holes. Following the 54 holes of stroke play on Wednesday, May 20, an individual champion will be declared along with individual finishers 2-10.
The top eight teams after 54 holes of stroke play will then be placed into a bracket for match play and seeded based on their 54 hole scores at the championship. Each team in match play will play stroke play for 18 holes and the team with the lowest score wins. Each team match will consist of five points with one point being awarded for each individual match. The four winning teams in the quarterfinals, which are scheduled for the morning on Thursday, May 21, will advance to the semifinals and those two semifinal winners, which are scheduled for the afternoon on May 21, will play in a championship final beginning at 9 a.m. on Friday, May 22. All of the matches will be played to completion and the first team to win three points within the team match will advance, or in the case of the final match, be declared the national champion.
The match play format at the national championships was implemented at the 2011 National Championships in Muscle Shoals, Ala., and this will mark the fifth season for match play in determining a national champion. In 2011, Cal State-Monterey Bay defeated Lynn, 3-2 in the match play to win its first-ever national title, while in 2012, Nova Southeastern defeated Cal State-Chico, 5-0 to take home its first national championship and Barry has taken home the last two national titles as they defeated Lynn by a tiebreaker (2.5-2.5) and then collected a 3.5-1.5 win last season against Nova Southeastern.
FSC, who played a practice round on Sunday at Rock Barn with the other 19 teams and eight individual qualifiers, is one just two schools in this year's championship that has made 20 or more appearances in the Division II Championships as joining FSC is Indiana (Pa.), who is the No. 2 seed from the Atlantic/East Region. The Crimson Hawks are making its 32nd all-time appearance in the event. Among the field this year are seven schools, including FSC, that have won a combined 22 national titles as those schools with national titles are Barry (2007, 2013, 2014), Cal State-Monterey Bay (2011), Cal State-Chico (1966), Nova Southeastern (2012), Sonoma State (2009) and USC Aiken (2004, 2005, 2006).
The field for this year's D-II National Championships will provide a challenge to Doug Gordin's Mocs and the rest of 20 teams competing in Conover as 13 of the Top 25 teams in the latest Bushnell Golfweek Division II Coaches' Poll have qualified, including 10 of the top 11 teams in the latest rankings that were released last Friday. In addition, six of the remaining seven teams earned votes in the latest poll.
The ranked teams playing to Conover are FSC, who is ranked is ranked eighth, No. 1 Nova Southeastern, No. 2 Lynn, No. 3 USC Aiken, No. 4 Barry, No. 5 Cal State-Chico, No. 6 Cal State-Monterey Bay, No. 7 Saint Leo, No. 9 Central Missouri, No. 11 Simon Fraser, No. 14 Central Oklahoma, No. 20 Sonoma State and No. 25 Indianapolis. The six teams that received votes are Missouri-St. Louis (33), Southwestern Oklahoma State (21), Wilmington (20), Indiana (Pa.) (15), Charleston (5) and West Texas A&M (4).
Leading the way for the Mocs heading into this year's National Championships are a trio of freshmen - John Coultas (Valrico, Fla.), John VanDerLaan (Southbury, Conn.) and Jimmy Jones (Tampa, Fla.). The trio each earned Second-Team All-Sunshine State Conference honors this season, while VanDerLaan was tabbed the SSC Freshman of the Year. All three players are ranked in the Top 50 of the latest Golfstat Division II individual player rankings as Coultas is fifth, VanDerLaan is ninth and Jones is 42nd.
Entering the NCAA Division II National Championships, Coultas leads the team with a 72.03 scoring average in 29 rounds and 10 tournament. On the season, Coultas, who tied for 18th at the South/Southeast Super Regional, has had three Top 5 finishes, including taking home medalist honors at the AFLAC/Cougar Invitational during the fall campaign as he shot a 10-under par 203 at the Country Club of Columbus in Columbus, Ga. He has had 14 rounds of par or better, including a team season low round of 66 in the first round of the AFLAC/Cougar Invitational. Coultas was the Mocs top finisher in three of 10 tournaments.
VanDerLaan, who tied for fourth at the South/Southeast Super Regional after shooting a four-under 212 at Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club in Dade City, Fla., enters the national championships second on the team with a 72.14 scoring average in 29 rounds and 10 tournaments. On the year, VanDerLaan has had five Top 10 finishes, including taking home medalist honors at both the McDonough Cup hosted by Rollins during the fall campaign and at the SSC Championships at RedTail Golf Club in Sorrento, Fla. VanDerLaan, who was the Mocs top finisher in three tournaments, including the team's last two events, has had 14 rounds of par or better and shot a season low round of 67 in the first round of the Matlock Collegiate Classic, the first round of the SSC Championships and in the final round of the South/Southeast Super Regional.
The third golfer in the Mocs line-up at nationals is Jones, who was the Mocs top finisher in its four regular season tournaments during the spring season. On the season, Jones, who tied for 57th at the South/Southeast Super Regional, has a season scoring average of 73.00 in 29 rounds of golf and 10 tournaments. He has had four Top 10 finishes, inclduing three Top 5 placements. His best finish was a tie for third at both the Matlock Collegiate Classic and the Armstrong Pirate Men's Invitational. He has had 13 rounds of par or better on the season and shot a season low round of 68 in both the second round of the Matlock Collegiate Classic and in the first round of the Southeastern Collegiate.
FSC's fourth golfer in its line-up this coming week is sophomore Jason Huntington (Lakeland, Fla.). Huntington, who finished tied for 68th at the South/Southeast Super Regional, has a season scoring average of 76.48 in 29 rounds of golf and 10 tournaments. On the season, Huntington has had one Top 40 finish as he placed 34th at the SSC Championships at the RedTail Golf Club in Sorrento, Fla., and was the team's No. 3 finisher at three events. Has had three rounds of par or better golf, including shooting a season-low round of 71 in the second round of the AFLAC/Cougar Invitational during the fall season.
The final golfer in the line-up for the Mocs at nationals is sophomore Levin Hoffmann (Sarstedt, Germany). On the year, Hoffmann, who shot a 226 for 54 holes to finish tied for 48th at the South/Southeast Super Regional, has a season scoring average of 77.78 in 23 rounds of golf and eight tournaments. His top finish on the season was a tie for 27th place at the SSC Championships. He has had one round of par or better, which came in the second round of the McDonough Cup during the fall season. In the second round of the McDonough Cup at Orlando's Rio Pinar Country Club, Hoffmann shot a season-low round of 69 and has had six rounds of 75 or lower heading into this coming week's national championships.
On the season, the Mocs have played in 10 tournaments and have had seven Top 6 finishes, including a season best third place finish at both the McDonough Cup hosted by Rollins during the fall campaign and the 2015 SSC Championships. At the SSC Championships, the Mocs finished third as they shot an 866 to finish five shots behind second place Nova Southeastern (861) and four shots in front of fourth place Florida Tech (870) and then finished sixth at the South/Southeast Super Regional as they carded an 881 for three rounds to finish three shots in front of seventh place West Florida (884) and two shots behind fifth place Saint Leo (879).
FSC has gone head-to-head with eight of the other 19 teams in this year's national championships field at least one time this season, including facing five of teams that qualified from the South/Southeast Super Regional at least four times. On the season, the Mocs have a 99-50-3 overall record and has at least one win against seven of the teams in this national championship field, but has gone 0-8 on the year against top-ranked Nova Southeastern.
In 35 previous trips to the national championships, the Mocs have not only won an NCAA record 12 national titles, they have also came away with five national runner-up finishes (1979, '80, '84, '88, '01), finished third four times (1992, '93, '02, '07). Additionally, FSC has had eight individuals win overall national champions with the most recent being Crouch in both 2013 and 2014. The other Moccasins that have won individual national titles include Tom Gleeton (1979), Tom Patri (1981), Lee Janzen (1986), Matt Saglio (1999), Jeff Klauk (2000) and Steve Sokol (2001). FSC's eight individual national champions is an NCAA Division II record.
Since becoming the Mocs coach in 1995, Gordin has led the Mocs to 13 appearances in the NCAA D-II National Championships and has won five national titles, finished as national runner-up one time and third two times.