HERSHEY, Pa. — For the first time in Wilmington (Del.) history, a Wildcats’ team advanced to the NCAA Division II regional championship and brought home the top prize.
Not only did the Wildcats go to the East Course at the Hershey Country Club and dominate the three-day, three-round Super Regional, winning the team title by eight strokes, junior PJ Tighe took top individual honors at the tournament, besting the field of 108 golfers by eight strokes.
With the team win, Wilmington advances to its second consecutive NCAA Championship. The top five teams from the Super Regionals advance as Wilmington will be joined by Indiana (Pa.), Concord, Post and St. Thomas Aquinas.
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Wilmington led the tournament wire-to-wire, posting the second and third lowest team rounds of the tournament. The Wildcats opened the three-day event by finishing with a 301 on Monday, which turned out to be the third lowest team score of the tournament. After shooting the second lowest round-two score of 309 by coming back on Wednesday morning to finish the suspended round, the Wildcats bounced right back and shot the second lowest round of the tournament to stave off any opponents with a third-round 300.
They finished with a 910, six strokes ahead of IUP in second place. Wilmington and IUP were head and shoulders above the rest of the field, as third place Concord came in with a 939, 29 strokes off the pace. Post, a fellow member of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference, advanced to its first NCAA tournament by placing fourth overall, shooting a 216-312-314-942 for the tournament, coming in fourth place.
Tighe also led wire-to-wire, tying for the lowest round of the tournament with a 72 opening round score. Tighe didn’t settle for the first round league, as he roared back with a 73 between Tuesday and Wednesday on the second round before finishing by tying the tournament low score again of 72 on the final 18 holes. The junior finished with a 217, four-over par total score. Tighe also won the CACC Tournament two week earlier.
Starting on the front nine in round three, Tighe left little doubt in the final 18 holes, as he came out and birdied the first hole to kick start his round. After five consecutive pars, Tighe birdied the seventh hole to put him two under for the round, making the turn with 34. The back-nine wasn’t so kind for Tighe as he finished one birdie, but bogeyed three holes to put him at a 72, one-over par on the day. The 72 was more than enough, however, as he defeated IUP’s Brad Boyle and Zack Kempa by eight strokes for the tournament.
The remaining three scorers for the Wildcats all finished in the top 20 in the tournament, giving them the best four golfers in the three rounds for the tournament championship. Andrew Baldo shot a consistent 77-77-77 for a 231 total, coming in a tie for 12 overall. Head coach Harry Jennings used Jerry Temple Jr. in the first and third rounds and Temple responded with a 73 first round score and a 75 second round score that counted, coupled with an 84 second round that was scratched. Overall, Temple shot a 232 and tied for 15th overall. Senior Dan Ott shot a 79-78-76 for a three round total of 233 and a tie for 18th overall. John Perrine’s second round score of 81 was added to the mix, coming to the team total of 910 for the tournament.