MELBOURNE – A 68 in the final round Tuesday gave junior John VanDerLaan a runner-up finish at the Sunshine State Conference Men's Golf Championships, while 4th-ranked Florida Southern had a team score of 295 to place fifth as a team. Barry won the league title with a 14-under par 850, putting the 2nd-ranked Buccaneers six shots ahead of second-place and 25th-ranked Saint Leo.
Florida Southern and Saint Leo were tied for third when the day began at Duran Golf Club, eight shots behind Barry, and only one shot behind second-place and 7th-ranked Florida Tech. Barry was able to retain its position with a four-under par 284 in the final round, but none of the other teams in the top-five remained in the same spot they were in when the final round got underway. Saint Leo got as close as two shots to Barry late in the morning before the Buccaneers pulled away behind individual champion Kyle Brey, who turned in a six-under par 66. The Bucs also got a 72 from Mario Beltran and Mike Anderson, as well as a pair of 74s from their other two golfers.
Saint Leo had the best team round of the day with a 282, but still finished six shots behind Barry overall with an eight-under par 856. Florida Tech fell one spot to third at -6. Defending SSC champion Lynn, which was ranked No. 3 in the nation coming into the tournament, was in fourth place at -4, and Florida Southern was fifth at +5, which was three shots ahead of sixth-place and fifth-ranked Nova Southeastern.
Brey put together rounds of 69, 69 and 66 to tie the SSC Men's Championship scoring record with a 12-under par 204, which was six strokes ahead of VanDerLaan. He now shares that with former Florida Southern golfer Steve Paramore who had the same score in winning the 2003 SSC Tournament. He had eight birdies in the final round Tuesday with a 33 on both the front nine and back nine.
VanDerLaan, who was tied for third going into the final rounds, birdied three of his first five holes, made the turn at three-under, and added two more birdies on 12 and 14 to drop to five-under. A bogey on 18 left him with a 68 but it was still enough to break the tie for third and give him sole possession of second place with a four-under par 210 for the tournament. He won the SSC title two years ago with a 207, and was tied for eighth last year, giving him three straight top-10 finishes at the conference championships.
VanDerLaan has now finished in the top-five of eight tournaments this season, the most for a Moccasin golfer since Jeff Klauk had eight top-fives during the 1999-2000 season. He's finished third or higher in seven of them, including each of the last five . VanDerLaan was just one stroke ahead of third-place Gaelen Trew of Florida Tech, two ahead of fourth-place Manuel Torres of Lynn, and four ahead of two golfers who tied for fifth.
Junior John Coultas shot a 74 on Tuesday after matching VanDerLaan with identical scores in the first (70) and second (72) rounds. That put him in a tie for 10th place overall with an even-par 216, his fifth top-10 showing of the season. Other than a bogey on 6 and double-bogey on 7, he was one-under the rest of the day to close out his third straight top-10 finish at the conference championships too.
Freshman Chase Ibbotson was the Moccasins' third counter Tuesday with a 75, following rounds of 74 and 75. That gave him a 224, putting him in a tie for 26th in his first career postseason tournament. Sophomore Michael VanDerLaan rounded out the Moccasin counters in the final round with a 78, which also gave him a 224. Sophomore Christian Anderson shot a non-counting 80 and tied for 33rd with an overall score of 226.
Florida Southern is expected to receive a bid to the upcoming NCAA Division II playoffs, with that announcement being made this Friday (April 28). The top 10 teams from the South Region will play in a Super Regional Tournament along with 10 teams from the Southeast Region in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, May 8-10.