Matlock Collegiate Classic Begins Monday Morning
Florida Southern begins the spring portion of its schedule on Monday, February 13, when the Moccasins and 14 other teams begin play in the 2012 Matlock Collegiate Classic. Now in its 31st season as one of the most prestigious tournaments in all of Division II golf, the Matlock Classic annually features some of the best men’s programs in the country. Six top-25 teams headline the list of participants this year, which includes tournament host Florida Southern, the 12-time Division II national champions.
This year’s Matlock Classic begins at 8:00 a.m., Monday, at Lone Palm Golf Club. The second round will be played Monday afternoon, and the final round is Tuesday at 8:00 a.m. All three rounds will feature shotgun starts, with pairings for the first two rounds pre-determined. In Tuesday’s final round, teams will be grouped according to their standing in the tournament, with the top three teams teeing off holes one through four.
Florida Southern will play with Barry and West Florida in the first two rounds, with those three teams also teeing off the first four holes. Each team consists of five golfers, with the top four scores counting in each round. The initial lineups for each team will be set Sunday afternoon.
Among the 15 teams in this year’s field are top-ranked Lynn University, and 2nd-ranked Barry University, both from the Sunshine State Conference. Lynn was also the Division II national runner-up in 2011. West Florida is ranked #8, Georgia College is #16, Armstrong Atlantic (GA) is #20, and Florida Southern is #25. Five of the other teams are receiving votes in the Golf World/Nike Golf Division II college coaches’ poll, with Newberry (SC), Columbus State (GA) and St. Edward’s (TX) falling just short of a top-25 ranking.
West Florida is the defending Matlock champion after defeating second-place Georgia College by four strokes last year. The Argonauts trailed the Bobcats by nine strokes going into the second day, but had a team score of nine-under par (the second best final-round score in tournament history) to overcome that deficit. The Argonauts finished with a 3-round total of 858 (-6), equaling the lowest tournament score in the last 14 years.
Florida Southern finished third last year, seven strokes behind West Florida. The Moccasins were second to Georgia College in 2010, and last won the event in 2008, when West Florida was second and Georgia College was third.
The individual title has been won the last two years by a golfer from Georgia College, though both Joe Young (2010) and Billy Shida (2011) have graduated. Shida fell one stroke short of the individual scoring record last year, which is held by Florida Southern’s Jeff Klauk, who was 12-under par in 2000.
Of the 15 schools in this year’s event, St. Edward’s is the only one that has never played in the Matlock Classic. The Hilltoppers are just the third school from Texas to play in the tournament, and the first since Texas-Pan American in 2005. Meanwhile, Lander and West Georgia are in the tournament for only the second time.
Valdosta State has the longest continuing streak of appearances in the Matlock Classic other than Florida Southern, with the Blazers playing in the tournament for the 14th year in a row.
Florida Southern has been led this year by sophomore Tim Crouch, who had a 73.9 stroke average in the Moccasins’ four fall tournaments. That included an even-par 216 and a 10th-place finish at the Cougar Invitational. Junior college transfer Case Gard, a graduate of Lakeland’s George Jenkins High School, has a 74.4 stroke average, and is coming off an 8th-place finish at the Rollins College Invitational in the Mocs’ final tournament of the first semester. Crouch and Lee White are the only current Moccasins who played in last year’s Matlock Classic.
This is the fifth year in a row the Matlock Classic has been played at Lone Palm Golf Club, which was founded in 1965 by Publix Supermarkets founder George Jenkins. The golfers will play a par-72 course covering 7,065 yards.
The tournament itself is named after former Florida Southern golf coach Charley Matlock, who led the team to its first seven national championships before his retirement in 1995.