April 3, 2010

By Adam Geigerman
Special to NCAA.com

Home Sweet Home

The Lander University Men’s Golf Team has been holding tightly to their No. 7 national ranking since the latest poll was published on Mar. 17, and their grip just got tighter. 

The Bearcats captured their home-tournament’s victory at the Bearcat Invitational on Mar. 30 in Greenwood, S.C.  The 6,800 yard, par-72 Greenwood Country Club offered the utmost hospitality to its Bearcats as they linked great shot after great shot together in their decisive 7-stroke victory over the 16-team field.

That very field featured five schools that at least received votes for the Golf World/NIKE Golf Division II Coaches Poll.  No. 7 Lander outplayed the red-hot Armstrong Atlantic State squad and the No. 2 Georgia College and State team by 7-strokes as Davis Lee led the Bearcats with his 7-under par, 209. 

He took home third place honors thanks to his masterful second round; he posted a nearly flawless 9-under 63.  Lee’s performance was complimented by the four other Bearcats that found themselves in the top-20 after the final round.  Bryan Newton and Charlie Hoyle blasted identical 210’s to tie for seventh, as Roberto Nasalli-Roca and Max G. Elsaesser finished tied for 10th and 16th respectively. The Bearcats will undoubtedly climb even higher in the polls as they now prepare for the Peach Belt Conference Championships in Pine Mountain, Ga. on April 12-14

AASU’s golfers have turned their game on this spring, finishing the Bearcat Invitational tied for second with a 24-under 840.  They have participated in six tournaments in 2010 carding three second-place scores and none lower than sixth.  Their consistent play directly correlates with their high finishing athletes.  All five Pirates at the Bearcat finished in the top-20, led by the 7-under performance of freshman Tyler Erickson and the stoic play of sophomore Matt Motes’ three 2-under 70s.  They completed the tournament tied for third and seventh, respectively.  Freshman Jacob Tilton and juniors Parker Gordon and Ridge Purcell all placed in the top-20 for the young Pirate golf program.  Their tournament score at the Bearcat was the program’s lowest since the reinstatement of Men’s Golf at AASU in 2000-1.

The No. 2 ranked Bobcats tied the Pirates for second with their three round total of 840.  Leading the charge for the GCSU men was the native Argentinean Fransisco Bide; the senior Bobcat rounded up the tournament tied for third place as he earned All-Tournament team honors for his 209.  Three other Bobcats placed in the top-20 for the Bearcat Invitational.

All three programs look to claim dominance of their powerhouse conference at the Peach Belt Conference Championship in Pine Mountain, Ga. on the grounds of the beautiful Callaway Gardens.  PBC contender Columbus State will host the conference tournament, as the top finishers aim to compete in the NCAA Division II Regional tournament after that.

California Dreamin’ at the Thunderbird Invitational

Goodyear, Arizona’s Palm Valley Golf Club housed the Grand Canyon Thunderbird Invitational on its par-72 course as it tested four of the nation’s most powerful schools, two of which represented the Cal State University system. 

No. 16 Cal State-Stanislaus and No. 3 Cal State-Chico were locked in an intense battle of golf strokes as they parlayed for the top spot at the Thunderbird Invitational.

As the last divot floated to the ground and the last putt was sunk the No. 16 team of the land stood victorious, by only two strokes over Chico State.  The Warriors illustrated their resolve as they held off the Wildcats with their final score of 18-under par (846).  Freshman Warrior Joseph Stewart was awarded the Player of the Week honors by the California Collegiate Athletic Association for his spectacular 9-under performance throughout the three-round tournament.  He paced his fellow Warriors with his first place finish as he took the individual medalist honors, also by two strokes.  The victory was nothing new to the Warriors, thanks to their previous two wins in four tries.  Heading into the CCAA Conference Championship Tournament later this month, the Warriors have one more tournament.  They have won a total of three of their five tournaments and they came in second once.
Chico State’s golf program made a final round scramble in attempt to overtake their fellow Californians, but fell short by an eagle.  Only two strokes separated the two West Coast juggernauts.  Lucas Delgado and Brandon Harkins led the charge for the Wildcats as they shot final rounds of 65 and 68 respectively.  Former CCAA Players of the Week Sylvester Gama and Kyle Souza posted disappointing tournaments totals of 3-over par and 7-over, respectively. 

Both squads look to finish their regular seasons in victory at the Jim Haney Invitational, hosted by Cal State-Stanislaus.

College Golf on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail

The University of North Alabama hosted their Spring Invitational Tournament at the Fighting Joe Course on the famed Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail that dissects the state of Alabama.  The long 8, 092 course in Muscle Shoals, Ala. calls for a par score of 72, but the tough layout rendered only ten sub-par scores that all came in the final of two rounds.

The home team took full advantage of their familiarity with the host course.  North Alabama took the trophy at their tournament with their 12-over 588 as they out stroked their closest competition, Delta State University, by five strokes. 

The 19-team field featured the hosting No. 4 Lions as they waged battle against two other top-25 foes, No. 13 Indianapolis University and the No. 9 ranked Central Missouri University golf team.