13 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
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16SUNSHINE STATE CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS

Three Moccasins Break Par Tuesday, Pushing Florida Southern up to Eighth at NCAA Division II Championships

Christian Anderson
Christian Anderson

DANIELS, WV – Needing to make a move in the second round of the NCAA Division II National Men's Golf Championships, Florida Southern got exactly what it needed with a trio of Moccasins breaking par on Tuesday. Senior Christian Anderson put together the best round of his college career by shooting a six-under-par 66, senior Michael VanDerLaan gave the Mocs a 69, and freshman Max Coutsolioutsos added a 70 as 8th-ranked Florida Southern will go into the final round of stroke play tied for eighth.

Florida Southern came into the day tied for 14th place and needed to make up at least five shots to reach one of the eight positions that will qualify for medal play competition on Thursday. Twelve teams were already well underway Tuesday before the Moccasins took to the course at the Resort at Glade Springs, and their position hadn't changed. What did change was the gap between themselves and eighth place, which had increased from five shots to as many as 10. The Mocs went to work though, and by the time they finished their round at about 5:00, they had become one of the hunted.

While also getting 78s from junior Chase Ibbotson and freshman Johnny Tucker, the Moccasins used their team score of 283 (-5) to move up seven spots and were the only team from outside the top eight when they day began that was in the top eight when it ended. They out-shot Cal State-Monterey Bay by 13 shots as the 20th-ranked Otters plummeted all the way from first into a tie for 10th. The Otters had been the only team to break par in Monday's opening round, but seven teams did that Tuesday, including Florida Southern. What made the Moccasins' -5 even more impressive was how they came back from a rough start that saw three of their golfers bogey or double-bogey their first hole.

Top-ranked Barry had the day's best score, and one of the best ever turned in at the national finals at -16 (272), as the Buccaneers matched Florida Southern by climbing seven spots in the standings to take over first place with an overall score of -10. Second-ranked Lynn is three shots behind the Buccaneers at -7 after going 11-under on Tuesday, and third-ranked West Florida is in third place, eight shots behind Barry after going 8-under in the round for a total score of -2.

No. 21 Arkansas Tech is fourth at +1, No. 24 Grand Valley State (MI) is fifth at +4, No. 10 Lincoln Memorial (TN) and No. 16 Missouri-St. Louis are tied for sixth at +5, and No. 8 Florida Southern shares eighth place with Dixie State (UT) at +6. There is a three-way tie for 10th just one shot behind Florida Southern and Dixie State, and 13th-place UC-San Diego is only two shots behind an advancing position.

With South Carolina-Aiken at +11 in 14th place, it means seven teams will go into the final round of stroke play within five shots of eighth place. If two or more teams are tied for eighth, there will be a playoff for the final position, something that has not yet happened since the NCAA adopted the current format for Division II in 2011.

The Moccasins totaled 20 birdies Tuesday, and seven of those came from Anderson, including five in the span of six holes. With Florida Southern starting on the back nine, Anderson simply parred his first five before picking up his first birdie of the day on the par-4 No. 15. He followed that with what turned out to be his only bogey, and from there he completely crushed the course. His birdie on 18 started the six-hole stretch that saw his score drop to -5, and with a birdie on No. 8, Anderson was down to -6. He remained there after parring the final hole of the day, and his 66 was tied with Barry's Jorge Garcia for the best score of the day. Anderson is also now tied with Colorado Christian individual qualifier Chase Carlson for second in the tournament with 11 birdies through the first two rounds, one less than Grand Valley State's Alex Scott.

Anderson is tied with Barry's Jorge Garcia for fourth place individually as the top golfers from the Sunshine State Conference. They are at -4 (140) overall, only two strokes behind the leader, Sam Broadhurst of Lincoln Memorial. Carlson and Scott are tied for second at -5 (139).

VanDerLaan was one of the three Moccasins who opened with a bogey on 10, but the senior had only one more the rest of the day. The first of his five birdies in the round came right after that on 11, and he added two more back-to-back on 17 and 18 to turn at -1. After a bogey-free front nine, VanDerLaan finished with a 69, and though his -3 wasn't the best round of his career, it was his best in any postseason tournament. Like Anderson, VanDerLaan is playing in the national finals for the fourth time. He's tied for sixth on the individual leaderboard at -3 (141).

The 70 by Coutsolioutsos ensured Florida Southern would have its sixth under-par team score of the season, and its third lowest round. The 70 was also the best for Coutsolioutsos in eight postseason rounds and it puts the freshman in a tie for 44th place with an overall score of 147 (+3). With five birdies on Tuesday, he has been at -1 over the last 27 holes.

Tucker is tied for 89th after his second-round 78, and Ibbotson is tied for 92nd following his 78. Tucker was playing at even-par when he made the turn Tuesday, and after starting the day +3 on his first two holes, Ibbotson parred the next nine.

The final round of stroke play begins Wednesday morning at 7:30, and Florida Southern will begin its round at noon again while playing with Lincoln Memorial and Dixie State.