MELBOURNE, FL – For the third year in a row, the Sunshine State Conference Men's Golfer-of-the-Year is a Moccasin, and for the second year in succession, that award goes to senior John VanDerLaan. Joining him as a First Team All-SSC selection is senior John Coultas, the 2016 SSC Men's Golfer-of-the-Year. Both multi-time All-Americans are on the All-SSC Men's Golf Team for the fourth time in their careers.
Since the award was first given in 1995, VanDerLaan is the fourth player to win back-to-back SSC Men's Golfer-of-the-Year awards. That list includes Nova Southeastern's Ben Taylor (2012-13), Florida Southern's Jeff Klauk (the only three-time winner, from 1998-2000), and Florida Southern's John Curley (1995-96). It's the 12th time Florida Southern has had the league's Golfer-of-the-Year. Nova Southeastern is the only other school with more than two winners, with the Sharks collecting four.
The top-ranked player in Division II by Golfstat, VanDerLaan owns a league-best 69.27 stroke average this season that is nearly a full stroke lower than his average as a junior when he broke the previous school record held by Klauk. He's placed in the top-10 in all but one of Florida Southern's 10 tournaments this season, has seven top-five finishes, and his five individual wins are one short of the school record set by Klauk in 1999-2000. (No other SSC golfer has more than two wins this season.) At no point in 30 rounds has he shot worse than a 73, and he's had 13 rounds in the 60s.
Coultas is having another All-American type season of his own, and his 70.47 stroke average would be the third lowest in team history behind only VanDerLaan's last two seasons. Ranked seventh in the Golfstat individual rankings, Coultas has six top-10, and five top-five finishes including one win. That came at this year's Matlock Collegiate Classic, making him a two-time champion in that event. Coultas also had two runner-up finishes (one in a playoff) and nearly matched VanDerLaan with 12 rounds in the 60s. He's been seven-under or better in five tournaments this year.
VanDerLaan and Coultas are Florida Southern's first four-time All-SSC selections since Jude Eustaquio from 2008-11. VanDerLaan was a member of the second team as a freshman and sophomore before making the first team each of the last two years, and Coultas was a second team member as a freshman before earning first-team honors every year since then. The only other time Florida Southern has had two teammates make the All-SSC Men's Golf Team four years in a row was from 1997-00 when it was Klauk and Wayne Raath.
While VanDerLaan was the SSC Men's Golfer-of-the-Year, Saint Leo's Alberto Castagnara was the Freshman-of-the-Year, and Florida Tech's Chris Saltmarsh was the Coach-of-the-Year.
Florida Southern will be one of seven SSC schools competing in the upcoming NCAA Division II South/Southeast Super Regional, which is May 7-9 in Conover, North Carolina.
For the complete All-Sunshine State Conference Men's Golf Team, click here.