CONOVER, N.C. - Florida Southern knew going into Wednesday's final round of stroke play at the 2015 NCAA Division II National Championships that it needed to at least shoot even par or maybe better to earn a spot into the match/medal play round that determines a team national champion and the 8th-ranked Moccasins did just that as they shot a 2-under par 282 on the Jones Course at the Rock Barn Golf & Spa.
The Mocs, who completed its final round of stroke play at about 1:45 p.m. and then watched the scoreboard for the next four hours as the teams above them on the leaderboard played their final rounds, score of 282 jumped them three spots to 10th on the leaderboard when they finished their round, but ultimately they finished in eighth place as two-time defending Division II National Champion Barry shot a 297 to drop 13 shots and help push the Mocs into the top eight of the final leaderboard and earn a spot in the match/medal play quarterfinals. FSC, who came into Wednesday's round sitting in 13th place after shooting a 590 for 36 holes, shot a 20-over 872 for 54 holes in the stroke play portion.
"We really played well and finished well today and that is what was really important," Moccasin head coach Doug Gordin said following Wednesday's round. "You know to have a chance to advance, you have to play well the whole tournament, but you really have to play well the last four or five holes and they did."
For the round, the Mocs played the final three holes at 4-under par to help aid them in their rise up the leaderboard and also all five of their golfers played the first three holes at even par as they each player scored pars on all three holes.
With its eighth place finish in stroke play, the Mocs earned the No. 8 seed in match/medal play, which will begin Thursday morning to determine the team national champion, and will face top-seed Lynn, who won the stroke play portion of the tournament. The top eight teams following the completion of stroke play were seeded for match play. In match play, each teams' players will be paired off to face off for the best 18-hole score. One point will be awarded to the winner of each individual match and the first team to three points wins. Ties will be broken by a cumulative score tiebreaker.
"It is huge for us to advance to match play with such a young team. It says a lot about them," said the longtime Moccasin coach who has led Florida Southern to five national championships. "Nobody would have given us a chance at the beginning of the season. but they didn't believe that so it's huge and shows their heart."
Playing Lynn tomorrow"I want to play the best team we can and they are one of the best teams, because if you eliminate them, it makes it a lot easier to win the whole thing...looking forward to tomorrow."
FSC's two-under par score of 282 as a team on Wednesday was the second lowest score of the round as only Lynn's score of 4-under par 280 was lower the the Mocs final score. Lynn's score allowed the Fighting Knights to finish two shots in front of runner-up Nova Southeastern to win the stroke play portion of the national championships with a 1-over 853 for 54 holes. The top-ranked Sharks shot a 1-over par 285 in the final round to finish with a 54 hole total score of 3-over par 855.
Leading the Mocs charge up the leaderboard on Wednesday was freshman John VanDerLaan (Southbury, Conn.) as the Sunshine State Conference Freshman of the Year shot a 4-under 67 in the final round to jump 39 spots up the final leaderboard as he finished stroke play with a 10-over 223 for 54 holes to sit in a tie for 54th place. In Wednesday's round, VanDerLaan, who carded rounds of 79 and 77 on Monday and Tuesday respectively, finished with six birdies and two bogeys on his scorecard and recorded three birdies over his final five holes.
Along with FSC, Lynn, Nova Southern, the other teams that advanced to Thursday's match/medal play quarterfinals were Central Missouri and Saint Leo as they finished tied for third place overall as UCM shot a 1-over 285 in the final round and recorded a 6-over 858 for 54 holes, while Saint Leo posted a 6-over 290 in the final round to finish with a 6-over 858 for 54 holes. The other teams that advanced to match play were Simon Fraser as they carded a 1-over 285 in the final round and finished in fifth place with a 7-over 859 for 54 holes, while second round leader USC Aiken fired a 16-over 300 in the final round to fall five spots and finish sixth with a 15-over 867 for 54 holes and Cal State-Chico shot a 6-over 290 on Wednesday to finish seventh overall with an 18-over score of 870 for 54 holes.
In Wednesday's final round, the Mocs had three of its four counters towards its team score shoot par or better as joining VanDerLaan under par was another freshman, John Coultas (Valrico, Fla.) and sophomore Levin Hoffmann (Sarstedt, Germany). Coultas shot a final round score of 2-under 69 to finish in a tie for fourth and Hoffmann finished with an even-par 71. The fourth and final counter, freshman Jimmy Jones (Tampa, Fla.) fired a 4-over par 75, while the fifth golfer for the Mocs on Wednesday was sophomore Jason Huntington (Lakeland, Fla.) as he shot a 6-over par 77.
For the three-day, 54-hole tournament, only 13 golfers shot under par and three other golfers shot even par on the 7,021-yard Jones Course at Rock Barn Golf & Spa.
Thanks to his 2-under 69 in the final round, Coultas finished the tournament in a tie for fourth place as he shot a 3-under par 210 for 54 holes. He opened the tournament by shooting a 1-under 70 on Monday and then carded an even-par 71 in Tuesday's second round. In Wednesday's round, Coultas recorded three birdies and had one bogey on his scorecard and played the front nine at 2-under par 33.
Central Missouri's Sam Migdal took home individual national championship medalist honors as he shot a final round score of 3-under par 68 to push his 54 hole score to an 8-under par 205 to claim the school's first-ever national championship medalist and earn the Arnold Palmer Award, which is given annually to the national champion medalist in all divisions. Lynn's Mateo Gomez finished a runner-up as he shot a final round 67 to push his 54 hole total to a 5-under 208 to fall three strokes behind Migdal, while Saint Leo's Ryan Gendron shot a final round 72 to push his 54 hole total to a 4-under 209 to finish in third place overall.
Jones was the Mocs next highest finisher as he finished in a tie for 33rd place after shooting a 6-over par for 219 for 54 holes. In Wednesday's final round, Jones, who shot even 72's on both Monday and Tuesday, carded one birdie and had five bogeys on his scorecard to finish with a 75.
Hoffmann's final round score of 71 allowed him to jump 20 spots up the leaderboard as he score of 71 pushed his 54 hole total to a 10-over 223 to sit in a tie with VanDerLaan for 54th place. Hoffmann, who recorded a 78 in the first round and a 74 in the second round, had two birdies and two bogeys on his scorecard in the final round and closed his round by birding the par 5 18th hole.
Huntington's final round score of 77 pushed his 54 hole total to 234, which placed him in a tie for 96th place. Huntington got off to a strong start as he played the front nine at 1-under par as he had two birdies and a bogey, but struggled on the back nine as he had three bogeys, a double-bogey on the 11th hole and shot a triple bogey 8 on the par 5 No. 14 hole. Huntington, though, finished with a birdie on the par 5 No. 18 hole.
The Mocs will have little time to rest as they return to the course on Thursday, May 21 to begin the match/medal play format of the championships. The Mocs will open match/medal play against No. 1 seeded Lynn. Both teams' individually seeded golfers will battle heads-up against each other through 18 holes with the winning team advancing on to the semifinals on Thursday afternoon. The finals are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. on Friday, May 22. FSC's quarterfinal match with Lynn will tee-off at 7:30 a.m. from the No. 1 tee.
"I want to play the best team we can and they (Lynn) are one of the best teams, because if you eliminate them, it makes it a lot easier to win the whole thing," Gordin added. "I am really looking forward to tomorrow."
2015 NCAA Championship Medal/Match Play
(All times listed are EST. Teams will tee off at #1 unless noted)
Quarterfinals - Thursday, May 21
Match 1 – 7:30 a.m.: #1 Lynn vs. #8 Florida Southern
Match 2 – 7:40 a.m.: #4 Saint Leo vs. #5 Simon Fraser (10th tee)
Match 3 – 8:20 a.m.: #2 Nova Southeastern vs. #7 Cal State Chico
Match 4 – 8:30 a.m.: #3 Central Missouri vs. #6 USC Aiken (10th tee)
Semifinals - Thursday, May 21
Match 5 – 1:50 p.m.: Winner Match 1 vs. Winner Match 2
Match 6 – 2:40 p.m.: Winner Match 3 vs. Winner Match 4
Final - Friday, May 22
Match 7 – 9 a.m.: Winner Match 5 vs. Winner Match 6
(Lynn vs. Florida Southern)
1. Elliott Whitley +14 (77-75-75=227) vs. Jason Huntington +21 (76-81-77=234) - 7:30 a.m.
2. Martin Cancino vs. Jimmy Jones +6 (72-72-75=219) - 7:40 a.m.
3. Keith Greene +9 (70-75-77=222) vs. Levin Hoffmann +10 (78-74-71=223) - 7:50 a.m.
4. Jose Andreas Miranda -1 (73-73-66=212) vs. John VanDerLaan +10 (79-77-67=223) - 8 a.m.
5. Mateo Gomez -5 (70-71-67=208) vs. John Coultas -3 (70-71-69=210) - 8:10 a.m.
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