DENVER - After 36 holes of golf, Florida Southern has put itself into prime position to earn on the eight spots in match play beginning on Friday after shooting a 2-under 286 here in Wednesday's second round of the NCAA Division II National Championships held at the Green Valley Ranch Golf Club to fall two spots to fourth in the team standings with one more round of stroke play competition remaining.
The fifth-ranked Moccasins, who teed off in the mid-afternoon on Wednesday, opened the event by shooting a 6-under par 282 in Tuesday's first round and combined with its 286 in Wednesday's second round pushed the Mocs two-day total to an 8-under par 568 through 36 holes. Entering Thursday's final round of stroke play, the Mocs are 17 shots behind the tournament's overall leader, Saint Leo, who fired a 15-under 273 in the second round to push its 36 hole total to a 25-under par 551.
SLU's 25-under par score through two rounds established a new NCAA Division II Championships two-round score as it bested the old record of 11-under 565 set by Florida Southern in 1999.
In addition to third-ranked Saint Leo's second round 273, two other teams had impressive second round performances as No. 2 ranked Chico State fired an 8-under 280 to remain in second place with a 14-under 562 for 36 holes, while sixth-ranked Barry fired a second round score of 11-under par 277 to move into third place as the Buccaneers have shot an 11-under par 565 through 36 holes.
The top eight teams at the end of action on Thursday will advance to the match/medal play that will determine the Division II national team champion. Heading into Thursday's final round, a total of nine shots separates spots 8-15 on the team leaderboard.
Leading the way for the Mocs in Wednesday's second round was sophomore All-American John Coultas (Valrico, Fla.) as the Sunshine State Conference Men's Golfer of the Year rebounded after shooting a 2-under par 70 in the opening round by firing a 4-under 68 on Wednesday to push his 36 total to a 6-under 138. Coultas, who was in 13th place after the opening round, enters the final round sitting in a tie for sixth place with three other golfers. Coultas is seven shots behind Saint Leo's Hugo Bernard, who has carded a 13-under 131 through 36 holes to hold a four shot leader on the individual leaderboard. Bernard followed up his opening round 65 with a 66 in Wednesday's second round.
On the day, Coultas opened by shooting a 2-under 34 on the back nine and then fired a 2-under 34 on the front nine. Coultas recorded five birdies, one bogey and 12 pars on his second round scorecard. The Mocs teed off from the No. 10 hole in Wednesday's second round.
Sitting behind Bernard on the leaderboard is his teammate, Joey Savoie, as he followed up his 69 in the first round with a 6-under 66 in the second round to push his 36 hole total to a 9-under 135. Limestone's Griffin Brown, who is playing as an individual qualifier, shot a 67 (-5) in the second round and has now shot an 8-under 136 for 36 holes to sit in third place.
Barry's Niclas Wieland and Nova Southeastern's Richard Mansell are each sitting in fourth place as they both have carded 7-under par 137's through 36 holes. Wieland shot a 68 in the second round, while Mansell, who is also playing as an individual, also shot a 68 on Wednesday.
Through two rounds and 36 holes of action, 27 of the 108 golfers in the field have recorded a score of under par on the 7,327-yard Green Valley Ranch course. In addition to the 27 players that have shot under par through the first two rounds, seven teams have also recorded a score of under par heading into Thursday's third and final round.
Standing behind SLU, Chico State, Barry and FSC is Central Oklahoma as the Bronchos shot a second round 281 to push its 36 hole total to a 6-under 570 to sit in fifth place, while top-ranked Lynn rebounded from its first round score of 291 by shooting a 281 in the second round to push its 36 hole total to a 4-under 572. Wilmington (Del.) sits in seventh place after shooting a 286 in the second round to push its 36 hole total to a 1-under 575 and Cal Baptist is eighth as they followed up its 293 on Tuesday with a 296 on Wednesday to push its 36 hole total to a 3-over 579.
The Mocs No. 2 counter on Wednesday was sophomore All-American Jimmy Jones (Tampa, Fla.). Jones shot an even-par 72 for the second consecutive round to push his 36 hole total to an even-par 144 to sit in a tie for 28th place. Jones had the shot of the day on Wednesday as he came within a foot of a double-eagle on the 577-yard second hole. He hit a 6-iron on his approach to earn the tap-in. Jones' eagle was one of seven in the second round.
For the day, Jones recorded an eagle, three birdies, five bogeys and nine pars on his scorecard and played the course's four par-5 holes at 3-under par. In fact, on the day, the Mocs as a team played the four par-5 holes at 9-under par, including playing the fifth and 12th holes at 4-under par apiece.
Sophomore All-American John VanDerLaan (Southbury, Conn.), who shot a 4-under 68 in the first round to sit in a tie for third place, fired a 1-over 73 in the second round to push his 36 hole total to a 3-under par 141. VanDerLaan enters the final round sitting in a tie for 18th place. On the day, VanDerLaan had two bogeys, one birdie and recorded 15 pars on his scorecard. Through two rounds of play, VanDerLaan is tied for fifth with 27 pars and has played the course's par-4 holes at an average of 3.85 (-3).
The fourth counter for the Mocs on Wednesday was freshman Michael VanDerLaan (Southbury, Conn.), who followed up his opening round 80 with a 1-over par 73 in the second round. Through 36 holes, Michael VanDerLaan has shot a 9-over 153 to sit in a tie for 88th place. He recorded four birdies, four bogeys and 10 pars on his second round scorecard, including playing the final nine holes at 1-under par.
FSC's final competitor on Wednesday was freshman Christian Anderson (Ocala, Fla.) as he shot a 2-over 74 to push his 36 hole total to a 2-over 146 to sit in a tie for 48th place. Anderson opened the event by shooting an even-par 72 on Tuesday. On the day, Anderson recorded two birdies, four bogeys and 12 pars on his scorecard.
The Mocs will return to the course on Thursday, May 19 as they will tee off in a grouping with Central Oklahoma (5th, -6) and Lynn (6th, -4) beginning from the No. 1 tee at 2:05 p.m. Eastern. The No. 1 golfers are scheduled to tee off at 2:49 p.m. Eastern.
Notes from Wednesday's second round
* - The previous Championships two-round team record was -11 (565) set by Florida Southern in 1999.
* - SLU's Bernard bested Central Oklahoma's Josh Creel for the two-day individual record at -12, three strokes lower relative to par and four strokes under Creel's 135.
* - Thursday's third round will determine the weekend's eight participants in medal match play for the team title. Behind St. Leo, Chico State, and Barry, Florida Southern, Central Oklahoma, Lynn, Wilmington (Del.), and Cal Baptist own the top eight spots.
* - In the individual standings, four of the top five are foreigners, with Limestone's Griffin Brown the lone American. St. Leo's Hugo Bernard and Joey Savoie are from Quebec, Barry's Niclas Weiland hails from Sweden, and Nova Southeastern's Richard Mansell is English.
* - The shot of the day belonged to Florida Southern's Jimmy Jones, who came within a foot of a double eagle on the 577-yard second. Jones hit a 6-iron on his approach to earn the tap-in. There were seven eagles in all on Wednesday after only one in the first round.
* - Barry's Nico Cavero owned the day's low round at 65, tying him for the tournament-low with Bernard's first round. Cavero vaulted up 38 spots to tie for 10th.- With the improved weather, the average score dropped nearly two strokes from Tuesday, from 74.4 to 72.8.
Team Standings (Top 10)
1. St. Leo, -25 (551)
2. Chico State, -14 (562)
3. Barry, -11 (565)
4. Florida Southern, -8 (568)
5. Central Oklahoma, -6 (570)
6. Lynn, -4 (572)
7. Wilmington, -1 (575)
8. Cal Baptist, +3 (579)
Individual Standings (Top 10)
1. Hugo Bernard, St. Leo, -13 (65-66—131)
2. Joey Savoie, St. Leo, -9 (69-66—135)
3. Griffin Brown, Limestone, -8 (69-67—136)
T4. Niclas Weiland, Barry, -7 (69-68—137)
T4. Richard Mansell, Nova Southeastern, -7 (69-68—137)
T6. Andreas Lunding, Wilmington, -6 (70-68—138)
T6. John Coultas, Florida Southern, -6 (70-68—138)
T6. Matt Hutchins, Chico State, -6 (68-70—138)
T6. Calum Hill, Western New Mexico, -6 (69-69—138)
Round 2 Low Rounds (Par 72)
Nico Cavaro (Barry), 65
Hugo Bernard (St. Leo), 66
Joey Savoie (St. Leo), 66
Griffin Brown (Limestone), 67