CONOVER, N.C. - Florida Southern began play here Monday afternoon in the 2015 NCAA Division II National Championships by firing a 12-over par 296 in the first round to stand tied for 12th place out of 20 teams on the Jones Course at the Rock Barn Golf & Spa.
The Moccasins, who are making its NCAA record 36th appearance all-time in the NCAA D-II National Championships, was tied for fourth place through the first nine holes after shooting a 3-over par, but shot a two-over as a team over the next three holes to fall into a tie for eighth place at five-over. The eighth-ranked Mocs struggles on the back nine continued as they fell to 10th place after 15 holes at 7-over and then shot a 5-over as a team over the final three holes to fall two spots to a tie for 12th with its first round playing partner, 25th-ranked Indianapolis.
"Other than Levin and Jason, we started out really well. I was pleased with the way the front nine went with the other three guys," Moccasin head coach Doug Gordin said following the first round. "But then we had two guys struggle on the back nine and had to count one of their scores. We ended up having two bad scores and you have to count one of them, so that's why we're so far behind."
With its score of 296, the Mocs, who were one of eight teams that teed off in the afternoon, are two shots behind 10th-place Missouri-St. Louis (294) and three shots behind fourth-ranked and two-time Division II National Champion Barry, who shot a 293 in the opening round.
"Overall, it was not a good day teamwise for us today, but like I told our team, if you're going to do that, do it in the first round because we have two rounds to make this deficit up," said Gordin, who has led the Mocs to five of its NCAA best 12 Division II national titles. "We just need to go out tomorrow morning, get out there early and post a good number and we'll be right back in it."
Eight of the top 13 teams on the leaderboard after Monday's first round teed off in the morning as top-ranked Nova Southeastern carded a five-under 279 to hold the first round lead. No. 2 ranked Lynn fired a 1-under 283 to sit second, while third-ranked USC Aiken, who played in the afternoon, shot an even-par 284 to sit third. 14th-ranked Central Oklahoma and ninth-ranked Central Missouri each shot 3-over 287's to sit tied for fourth and unranked Indiana (Pa.), who also teed off in the morning, fired a 4-over 288 to sit in sixth place.
Fifth-ranked Cal State-Chico and 11th-ranked Simon Fraser each shot five-over 289's to sit tied for seventh and seventh-ranked Saint Leo shot a 6-over 290 to sit in ninth. SLU and Simon Fraser both played in the afternoon.
The top eight teams in the team standings following Wednesday's third round of play will advance to compete in a seeded match play format, which will run the final two days of the tournament (Thursday-Friday) to determine the Division II team national champion.
Leading the way for the Mocs in Monday's opening round was freshman John Coultas (Valrico, Fla.), who shot a 1-under 70 to stand tied for sixth place with 14 other players. Coultas opened by shooting a 1-under 34 on the front nine, before carding an even par 36 on the back nine on the 7,021-yard Jones Course at Rock Barn. On the day, Coultas finished with five birdies, two bogeys and carded a double-bogey six on the par-4 No. 13 hole on his scorecard. Coultas is one of 20 players that shot under par in Monday's opening round and one of only six players that teed off in the afternoon.
Central Missouri's Sam Migdal turned in the best round of the day as he carded a five-under 66 to hoild a two shot lead over Nova Southeastern teammates, Oscar Lengden and Richard Mansell, who both fired 3-under 68's on Monday.
USC Aiken's Hubert Tisserand and UC-Colorado Springs' Patrick Skakel, who was playing as an individual qualifer, each shot two-under par 69's to sit tied for fourth place after the first round.
The Mocs finished the first round tied for second in most birdies with 16 with USC Aiken, only Nova Southeastern with 21 had more birdies and the Mocs played the course's three par-5 holes at 1-under as they averaged 4.93 in the opening round.
"I was pleased with what Coultas did and I was pleased with the way Jimmy hung in there with a couple of three putts today," said Gordin. "And even Jason, who went on a 4 or 5 hole stretch there that was awful, but then he was able to hang in there and Levin was horrible the front nine, but shoots 1-under on the back nine, which was important, because we ended up counting it."
In addition to Coultas, freshman Jimmy Jones (Tampa, Fla.) fired a 1-over par 72 to sit in a tie for 29th place. Jones opened by shooting an even-par 35 on the front nine, before tallying a 1-over 37 on the back nine, including recording two birdies over his final four holes. On the day, Jones had four birdies and five bogeys on his scorecard.
The third counter for the Mocs on Monday was sophomore Jason Huntington (Lakeland, Fla.) as he fired a five-over 76 to sit in a tie for 64th place. Huntington opened by shooting a 3-over 38 on the front nine, before carding a 2-over 38 on the back nine. Huntington opened the round with back-to-back birdies and had four on his scorecard for the day.
Sophomore Levin Hoffmann (Sarstedt, Germany) was the final counter for the Mocs on Monday as he fired a 7-over 78 to sit in a tie for 85th place. Hoffmann struggled on the front nine as he shot an 8-over 43, before firing a 1-under 35 on the back nine.
The final competitor for the Mocs on Monday was freshman John VanDerLaan (Southbury, Conn.). VanDerLaan, who was the Sunshine State Conference Freshman of the Year and is currently ranked ninth in the latest Golfstat Division II player rankings, fired an 8-over 79 to sit tied for 94th place. VanDerLaan shot a 1-over 36 on the front nine and then shot a 7-over 43 on the back nine thanks to carding an 8 thanks to hitting the ball into the water twice on the par 3 No. 17 hole.
The second round of the national finals gets underway Tuesday morning beginning at 8:36 a.m. on the Jones Course at Rock Barn Golf & Spa. The Mocs will again play with Indianapolis and five of the eight individual qualifiers as they will all tee off from hole No. 10.
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