Men’s Golf Team Locked in Tight Battle at Copperhead Championship in a Field Worthy of Champions

John VanDerLaan
John VanDerLaan

INNISBROOK, FL – When Florida Southern won the NCAA Division II National Championship last spring, it was tournaments like the one the Moccasins are playing this week that helped prepare them for what they faced that final day of the season. With the all of the top five ranked teams in the nation competing, along with seven of the top-10, and 10 of the top-25, Florida Southern finished the first day of the Copperhead Championship tied for third.

With two rounds played on Monday at Innisbrook Resort, the 3rd-ranked Moccasins had a team score of 284 in the morning, and a 291 in the afternoon. They were tied with 2nd-ranked Lynn for first place halfway through the day, but schools such as top-ranked West Florida and 5th-ranked Nova Southeastern were never far behind, while 4th-ranked Barry, 16th-ranked Lee (TN), 23rd-ranked Lander (SC) and Valdosta State were all within nine shots of the lead too.

At the end of the day though, it was Nova Southeastern in first with a 570 (+2), with Lynn two shots back at 572, and Florida Southern and West Florida tied for third, trailing the front-running Sharks by five shots. The gap separating the top three teams from the rest of the field was nine shots, with Lee, Lander and Valdosta State all tied for fifth.

Monday's first round saw senior John VanDerLaan and freshman Jacob Penny each shoot a one-under par 70, and junior Michael VanDerLaan shoot a 71. Senior John Coultas and junior Christian Anderson each checked in with a 73, putting all five Moccasins among the top-20 individuals. The next best number five came from West Florida, with the Argonauts' fifth golfer tied for 38th after the first round with a 75.

Penny had a team-high five birdies in round one, and had the Mocs' best score over the second half of that round at -3. John and Michael VanDerLaan each birdied four holes, though a double-bogey on his 14th hole of the day pushed Michael back to even-par for the round. Meanwhile, Coultas and Anderson each had one birdie and three bogeys to go two-over, but a 73 was a score no other team could match from either its fourth counter or its non-counter.

In the second round, each of the VanDerLaans and Coultas shot a 72, the Moccasins' fourth counter was Penny with a 75, and Anderson shot a 76. The trio of 72s were achieved in different ways, though John VanDerLaan had a color-filled scorecard with six birdies, five bogeys and one double. He settled in at two-under, however, for his final 12 holes and finished day one of the tournament tied for seventh at even-par 142.

Michael VanDerLaan had only two birdies in the second round, but also had a team-low three bogeys to nearly balance out at +1 for the round and +1 for the tournament. He was tied for ninth with a 143.

Coultas made the turn in round two at +2, but birdies on 11 and 13 got him back on track and allowed him to also shoot a 72. That gave him a 145 (+3) for the day, and put him in a 19th-place tie with Penny, who was one-under on the back nine in the second round. Anderson was one-under through the first six holes of round two, and was one-under for the final four, but went seven-over in between, and finished Monday tied for 34th with a total score of 149 (+7).

Holding the individual lead with a four-under par 138 was Saint Leo's Alberto Castagnara, who had a 72 and 66 on Monday. The 66 was the best single round of the day and it gave him a 1-stroke leader over Greg Gonzalez from California Baptist. Nova Southeastern's Juan Jose Guerra and Lynn's Jorge Villar were tied for third with a two-under par 140, while Nova Southeastern's Tomas Millet and Lander's Conor Richards were tied for fifth at one-under par 141.

The final round of the Copperhead Championship begins Tuesday morning at 8:15.