NORMAN, OK – The Florida Southern men's golf team will open the 2017-18 season in the same position it held at the end of last season. Three months after winning the 2017 NCAA Division II National Championship, the Moccasins are ranked number one in the GCAA (Golf Coaches Association of America) Division II Preseason Coaches' Poll.
"It is quite an honor to have the respect of your fellow coaches, and for that we are appreciative, but in reality preseason polls mean nothing," said head coach Doug Gordin. "Our team as well as any other teams have a lot to prove this season. As my high school basketball coach told me at the start of a new season, last year's baskets don't count! I want to be ranked #1 at the end of the season, but it is a very nice honor."
The Moccasins picked up nine of the 18 first-place votes to score 429 points in the poll, putting them just ahead of West Florida, which received seven first-place votes and scored 417 points. The next three teams were from the Sunshine State Conference, with Barry third (396 points), Lynn fourth (384 points) and Florida Tech fifth (366 points). Lynn had the remaining two first-place votes that did not go to either Florida Southern or West Florida.
Rounding out the preseason top-10 are Newberry (SC), North Alabama, California Baptist, Cal State-Monterey Bay and Arkansas Tech.
In addition to having four of the top-five, the Sunshine State Conference has three additional teams in the preseason poll. Nova Southeastern is ranked No. 11, Saint Leo is No. 16, and Rollins is No. 22.
For the complete NCAA Division II preseason poll, click here.
Florida Southern was ranked No. 2 in last year's preseason poll behind West Florida, No. 4 in the final regular season poll, and was in the top-five all year before winning the program's 13th National Championship. It was their sixth under Gordin. During their run to the national title, the Moccasins were runner-up in both the Super Regional and the stroke play portion of the National Tournament, which gave them five first- or second-place finishes over the course of the season against what may have been the most difficult schedule in the country. After a 5-0 win over Ferris State in the quarterfinals of match play, the Mocs defeated top-ranked West Florida 3-2 in the semifinals before knocking off Lynn 3-2 in the championship match.
The Moccasins are ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll for the first time since 2010, another year in which they were coming off a national title. That year Gordin had three players returning from his national championship squad, but this year he'll have all five who won the title in Kissimmee last May. Among them are seniors John VanDerLaan and John Coultas, who are each 3-time All-Americans. VanDerLaan was also last year's SSC Player-of-the-Year, and Coultas won that honor two years ago.
Junior Christian Anderson is another of the leaders who stepped up his play during the postseason last year and finished the year among the top-ranked players in Division II. Both Anderson and junior Michael VanDerLaan had top-20 finishes during the stroke play portion of the National Finals, and VanDerLaan saw a nearly 5-stroke improvement in his game from the fall to the Mocs' three postseason tournaments. Sophomore Chase Ibbotson completes last year's contingent of postseason participants after tying for 11th in the regional tournament and winning two of his three individual matches at nationals.
This year's roster also includes returning veterans Grant Lovell, a senior, and Palmer Lovell, a junior. One freshman has joined the mix for the 2017-18 season, with Jacob Penny arriving from nearby Valrico.
The Moccasins are scheduled to open the season September 18 at the Griffin Invitational hosted by Saint Leo at Streamsong Resort.