KEY BISCAYNE - After one round of play at the 2016 Sunshine State Conference Championships here Sunday afternoon, Florida Southern stands tied for third place out of nine teams after firing an 18-over 306 as a team in windy conditions to sit within eight shots of the first round co-leaders, Saint Leo and Lynn at Crandon Park.
In Sunday's first round, the wind gusts reached as high as 29 miles per hour late in the morning that caused problems for the golfers, especially on the 8th and 9th holes as they both played 0.80 shots over average and yielded a total of 11 scores worse than bogey.
The fourth-ranked Moccasins puts them in a tie for third with fifth-ranked Nova Southeastern, who also shot a 306 in Sunday's first round. Sixth-ranked Lynn, who is the defending SSC Champion and third-ranked Saint Leo share the first round lead after both teams fired 10-over par 298's in the opening round.
After the first 18 holes of play, five of nine teams in the event are within 21 shots of the first round co-leaders on the 7,105-yard Crandon Park course.
Florida Tech and seventh-ranked Barry sit in a tie for fifth place after each team shot a 308 in the first round, while Rollins fired a 319 to sit in seventh place. Tampa (337) and Eckerd (338) are eighth and ninth respectively.
Leading the way for the Mocs in Sunday's first round was sophomore John Coultas (Valrico, Fla.) as the All-American carded a 3-under 69 to sit atop the leaderboard. Coultas is one shot in front of Lynn's Martin Cancino, who shot a 2-under 70 to sit in second place and is two shots in front of Saint Leo's Ryan Gendron, who fired a 1-under 71 to stand third. On his first round scorecard on Sunday, Coultas, who was the runner-up at last year's SSC Championships, recorded five birdies, two bogeys and 11 pars.
After the first round of action, three of the 45 golfers in the field shot under par at Crandon Park.
In addition to Coultas, sophomore All-American John VanDerLaan (Southbury, Conn.), who is the reigning SSC individual medalist, fired a five-over 77 to sit in a tie for 16th place. VanDerLaan is eight shots behind his teammate Coultas heading into Monday's second round. VanDerLaan recorded one birdie, six bogeys and 11 pars on his first round scorecard.
The third counter for the Mocs in Sunday's opening round was sophomore Jimmy Jones (Tampa, Fla.) as he fired a 7-over 79 to sit in a tie for 25th place. On the day, Jones recorded an eagle, a birdie, six bogeys, two double-bogeys and eight pars on his scorecard. Jones' eagle came on his final hole of the day as he scored a 3 on the par-5 18th hole.
Florida Southern's final counter on Sunday was junior Levin Hoffmann (Sarstedt, Germany), who carded a 9-over 81 in the opening round to sit in a tie for 29th place. On the day, Hoffmann had one birdie, eight bogeys, a double-bogey and eight pars on his first round scorecard.
The Mocs final competitor on Sunday was freshman Christian Anderson (Ocala, Fla.) as he shot an 86 in the first round and is tied for 36th place after 18 holes of action. After shooting an 8-over 43 on the front nine, Anderson rebounded to shoot a 6-over 43 on the back, including recording two birdies over his final three holes. Anderson recorded two birdies, seven bogeys, three double-bogeys, five pars and a triple-bogey on the par-4 No. 9 hole.
FSC will continue play with another 18 holes in the SSC Championships on Monday, April 18 as they begin play in the second round from hole No. 10 in the second to last tee groupings that run from 9:15 a.m.-9:51 a.m. The Mocs, who were paired with Lynn and Saint Leo in Sunday's first round, will play with Barry and Florida Tech in the second round.
First Round Tournament Notes:
* - Sunday's average score was 79.98, which is the highest first round mean score since the tournament grew to nine teams playing 54-holes in 2005. It is the second highest scoring round in SSC tournament history to 2012's third round average of 81.73. The 2012 tournament took place at The Concession Golf Club in Bradenton.
* - Making the first round more difficult were wind gusts up to 29-mph in the late morning. Golfers found the par-3 No. 8 and par-4 No. 9 the most challenging on Sunday. Both holes played 0.80 shots over average and yielded 11 scores worse than bogey. Hole No. 4 proved to be the third most difficult hole on course sunday. The par-5 attributed to eight double bogies.
* - Five eagles were recorded on Sunday, all on par-5's. The two least difficult holes during the round were No. 18 and No. 14, both relinquished two eagles. All five eagles came from golfers on different teams.
* - VanDerLaan (FSC), Coultas (FSC), Miranda (LU), Mansel (NSU), Gomez (NSU) and Savoie (SLU) look to join an elite group of 30 golfers who have finished in the Top 5 at the SSC championship multiple times.