HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Fla. – The usual suspects will have a say in who wins the 2012 NCAA Division III Men’s Golf Championship at Mission Inn Resort & Club this week.
Some might argue that one quarter of the field of 41 has a chance to hoist the trophy after 72 holes of stroke play golf on Friday afternoon.
Top-ranked Methodist will be hard to beat. The Monarchs, champions in 2010 and with 10 overall, make a 32nd consecutive appearance. Twenty eight times the North Carolina school has finished inside the top five at the DIII Championships. Steve Conley’s squad features all five players inside the top 32, statistically, led by junior Mike Wesko, who tied for 11th at the 2011 Championships, sophomore Dakun Chang, and senior Robby Bruns, who finished tied for 54th in 2011.
Oglethorpe won the 2009 DIII title and tied for 11th in 2011. The Stormy Petrels, under 18th year head coach Jim Owen, have three players inside the top 15 — rookie Anthony Maccaglia and junior Eric Quinn.
|DIII MEN’S GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP|
|• Field announced|
|• Championship history|
Guilford won titles in 2002 and 2005 and is making its 18th appearance. The Quakers are led by junior Noah Ratner, who tied for 11th in 2011, and a pair of freshmen – Andrew Thompson and Mitch Robinette.
Texas Tyler is making just its third appearance but head coach King Campbell’s Patriots pack a powerful punch. How deep is Texas-Tyler? Seven players are ranked inside the top 125 with senior James Walsh leading the pack. Junior John Dukes, senior Matt Stephens and freshman Trent Bodoin are all inside the top 25.
California’s Redlands has freshmen Bobby Holden and Perry Johnson, plus sophomore Jeremy Sanders, all among the top 40. Redlands has been bridesmaids four times at the DIII Championships.
Illinois Wesleyan made a final day charge in 2011, coming up six strokes short. Jim Ott’s Titans are certainly a threat this week. Three of the five starters played in the 2011 Championships with senior Dax Reese finishing ninth after a final round 69. Shane Smith and Stefan Johnson are also back with a pair of freshmen also ranked among the top 135. 2012 marks the sixth consecutive appearance for the Titans.
Transylvania’s Pioneers just missed the cut in 2011 but four of those starters are back led by senior Justin Tereshko. Sophomores Jantzen Latham and Clay Hinton teed it up as freshmen for Transylvania at the 2011 Championships.
Greensboro, the 2011 champions, return Ben Nihart, who tied for 11th last May, and Kirk Mitchell, who tied for 16th.
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps is back for the first time since 2006 with a pair of heavy hitters in sophomore Brad Shigezawa and 2010 medalist Tain Lee, battling back from a wrist injury suffered in January.
LaVerne has three top five finishes in 12 appearances. The Leopards from California have six players inside the top 130 – four of them freshmen – with junior Derek Zachman among the top 10.
Forty-one schools representing 21 states will participate in the four day event.
CMS’s Lee is the highest returning individual finisher. The senior was second in 2011 after winning medalist honors in 2010. LaGrange’s Hudson Keener had two sub-70 rounds last May and finished third, with Redlands’ Sanders tossing in a pair of 68s on his way to a tie for fifth. Seven of the top 11 finishers from 2011 are expected to tee it up this week.