BOCA RATON, Fla.– Trailing by eight strokes in the middle of the final round, the No. 14 Nova Southeastern shot a combined total of 4-over-par on its back nine to defeat No. 7 Barry by one shot with a total score of nine over par 873 (290-287-296) to win the Sunshine State Conference Tournament at Boca Country Club.
“After nine holes, I knew we weren’t out of it and the players seemed to know that too as they just kept plugging away on the back nine,” head coach Kevin Marsh said.
Heading into the final round with a two shot lead, freshman Ricardo Celia took over. Leading the tournament by one shot when he started his round, he began with two birdies in his first four holes. Celia looked to be on cruise control before catching the dreaded bogey train in the middle of his round. Faced with adversity, Celia birdied his last hole with a 15-foot putt on No. 18 to capture the win for the Sharks.
Celia shot a 1-under-par 296 (72-67-76) which tied him for the individual lead with Barry’s Daniel Stapff. Stapff drained an eagle putt on the second playoff hole to win the individual title.
“After the match, I went up to Ricardo and I told him that I was proud of the birdie he made on the last hole for the team,” Marsh said. “It showed how to grind out a victory and make a putt when it counted for your team.”
The Sharks posted a total of four players in the top 13 for the tournament. Bobby Bode followed Celia in fourth. Bode rebounded after his second-round 78 from Monday with a final round of even par 72 to finish at four-over-par 220 (70-78-72) for the tournament.
Jack Bartlett finished in a tie for 10th after firing a 2-over-par 74 in Tuesday’s final round. Bartlett, who won the individual medalist in the Sharks last showing at the Buccaneer Invitational two weeks ago, tallied two birdies and four bogeys in his final round. Bartlett finished at six-over 222 (78-70-74) for the three rounds.
Carding two double-bogeys on his front nine, Ben Vertz bounced back with two birdies in his last 10 holes to fire a 2-over-par 74, totaling seven over par 223 (72-77-74) for the three rounds and a tie for 13th place.
The team win is the first for the Sharks this season.