Unbelievable Playoff Decides Southeastern Collegiate Medalist Honors; Florida Southern Ties for Fifth Overall

John VanDerLaan drives into the distance on the final playoff hole Tuesday at Kinderlou Forest.
John VanDerLaan drives into the distance on the final playoff hole Tuesday at Kinderlou Forest.

VALDOSTA, GA – It may not have been the national championship tournament, but the 2018 Southeastern Collegiate hosted by Valdosta State sure had that feel to it with all of the top-10 teams in the NCAA Division II coaches poll among the participants. Even when the dust settled after Newberry's one-shot win over West Florida, it really wasn't over. Instead, West Florida's Chandler Blanchet and Florida Southern's John VanDerLaan embarked on a marathon playoff to decide medalist honors, with Blanchet finally winning on the eighth extra hole.

Florida Southern ended up tied for fifth as a team at +11, with Newberry at +4, and West Florida at +5. Florida Tech, which was the only team to break par in Tuesday's final round, finished third at +6, while Barry was fourth at +10. Florida Southern was tied with Lynn in fifth place, with everyone else at least eight shots behind the Moccasins and Knights.

Florida Southern shot a 294 Tuesday, just one shot off the score posted by Newberry and equal to that by West Florida. Florida Tech's 286 was the best score of the day, with no other team better than 293. The Moccasins counted a 72 from VanDerLaan, a 73 from John Coultas, a 74 from Jacob Penny, and a 75 from Chase Ibbotson. Christian Anderson was the non-counter with a 77.

But while most of the golfers stopped at 54 holes, VanDerLaan played another eight after he and Blanchet finished the final round tied at six-under-par 210. That set up the surreal playoff between the reigning Division II Player-of-the-Year (Blanchet) and the current No. 1 ranked player in Division II (VanDerLaan).

After three tries to break the tie on the par-4 No. 18, the golfers moved to No. 10, a slightly shorter hole that had the same outcome. The par-5 No. 11 failed to decide anything either, nor did No. 17, a par-3. After having a go at 18 again, Blanchet and VanDerLaan finally went to No. 1 where it was decided.

Blanchet hit the green to give himself a chance for a birdie putt, but VanDerLaan, who tied for the tournament lead with 14 birdies, went long and left over the green. He hit a tough chip on to the green but still needed about a 20-foot putt to extend the playoff. Blanchet, meanwhile saved par and came away with the win.

Coultas just missed giving Florida Southern another player in the top-10 after he bogeyed 18, finishing in a tie for 12th with a 217 (+1). Ibbotson tied for 39th with a 225 (+9), Anderson tied for 42nd with a 226 (+10), and Penny tied for 47th with a 227 (+11). Florida Tech and Barry were the only other schools to put all of their golfers that high in the individual standings.

Newberry's win was its fifth of the season and came largely behind Carlos Leandro, who finished third with a five-under-par 211 (69-71-71), just one stroke behind Blanchet and VanDerLaan. He had three eagles in the tournament. None of the other Wolves, though, had better than a 74 in the final round, but at the same time, West Florida had to count a pair of 75s. That was enough to break the tie score which they carried into the final round.

Florida Southern returns to Georgia next week for the Bobcat Invitational, hosted by Georgia College in Eatonton.