May 14, 2010

SIDEBAR: Cold As Ice

By Todd Karpovich
Special to

Hershey, Pa. - Josh Schrader's four-foot putt on the final shot on the last hole gave Methodist its 10th national title in Division III men's golf Friday at the Hershey Links.

The Monarchs took control of the tournament by catapulting from 12th to first place at the end of the second round on Wednesday, and led after each ensuing round at the Hershey Links. However, Guilford stormed back in the final round and came within a stroke of pulling off the upset before Schrader made his putt to win the title.

Methodist finished with a four-day overall score of 1,177, just ahead of a surging Guilford (1,178), Huntingdon (1,181 ), St. John's University in Minnesota (1,191) and La Verne (1,197).

"That was way too nerve-wracking," Methodist coach Steve Conley said. "For Guilford to play the way they did today was amazing. My guys responded. It's been since 1999 that we won. All the guys in between have wanted that number 10 for so long. I'm just so happy for our program and our school."

The final round was delayed one hour, 40 minutes because of a thunderstorm.

In the individual competition, Claremont Mudd Scripps' Tain Lee ended the tournament in the same place where he started - atop the leader board. Lee finished with an overall score of 280, or minus-7, and became the first men's golfer from the southern California school to win a national championship. Mitchell Fedorka of La Verne (Calif.) pulled within a stroke on the 12th, but fell back later in the round.

"After the great first round when I shot a 69 at the (Hershey) Country Club, I was pretty happy with that," Lee said. "With the lead, I was fairly happy and I just held on from there. I'm glad I represented CMS the way I did this week. I was happy to do this for them."

Chris Morris of Centre College (Danville, Ky.) also came close to knocking off Lee and pulled within two strokes with five birdies on the first 12 holes of the final round. Morris birdied the 18th and ended the round trailing Lee by two, so all he could was watch and wait.

"Tain is a great player," Morris said. "I did all I could today. I knew coming off the first tee I had to shoot 5- or 6-under, which I did because I finished at 5 [under]. I actually saw Tain when I was making the turn and he was looking at the scoring. He said 'you gottta pretty good round going.' "

Fedorka finished second with an overall score of 283, ahead of Morris (284), Schrader (287) and Chase Blaich of Huntingdon (289).

Methodist (Fayetteville, N.C.) stayed in first throughout the final round. Guilford (Greensboro, N.C.) put itself in position to overtake the Monarchs by shooting 10-under through the first 11 holes. Peter Latimer led the way with four birdies on the front nine.

Guilford trailed by two heading into the final two holes but could not close the margin. Latimer narrowly missed a 7-foot putt to tie before Schrader's winning putt.

"I thought I was going to hit the ball when my putter was behind it," Schrader said about his nerves. "I'm not sure how I got the ball to stay still. It was a lot closer than it needed to be. It was the whole week that did it for us, not just that one putt. I've always told Coach I wanted the ball in the final second and I got it."

The Quakers had dedicated this week's tournament to their late coach Jack Jensen, who died suddenly on March 28 at the age of 71. The players would have made their late coach proud with their late rally.

"I'm really proud of the guys," interim coach Korky Kemp said. "They made a ton of birdies. We had a different game plan where we were going to come out aggressive. They played well."

Huntingdon (Montgomery, Ala.) pushed Methodist throughout the week and even led in the third round. The Hawks, however, couldn't find a way to overtake the North Carolina school.