COLUMBUS, GA – Even when Florida Southern lost the lead Tuesday, it never got far enough away where the Moccasins couldn’t grab it back at any moment. When they did, it never got large enough for the Mocs to ever feel comfortable until the final shot was in the cup. With every one of their counters shooting even par or better, the Moccasins pulled away though over the final three holes for a 4-stroke win over host Columbus State at the AFLAC/Cougar Invitational.
The tournament win was Florida Southern’s first since winning the 2010 Division II national championship, a season that saw the Moccasins win three tournaments overall and finish second in three others. The Moccasins won this one with balanced scoring throughout, as junior Tim Crouch (Mt. Vernon, Ohio), senior Case Gard (Lakeland, Fla.) and freshman Joseph Leavitt (Atkinson, N.H.) all shot a one-under par 70 in the final round, and junior Shane Convery (Ponte Vedra, Fla.) had a 71 to complete the Mocs’ team score of 281. That was the best single round for any team in the tournament. Senior Peter Creighton (Kenmore, N.Y.) shot a 74 on Tuesday, and though his score wasn’t a counter, he was among the Moccasin leaders in round one and two.
Columbus State was the first team to finish Tuesday, and did so trailing Florida Southern by a single stroke with three Moccasins still on the course. All three of them (Crouch, Creighton and Convery) were at +1 for the round, and with Leavitt and Gard already in the clubhouse at -1, it meant Florida Southern could afford one slipup, but absolutely nothing more.
The Mocs were able to close things out though, with Crouch improving his score to -1, essentially securing the win for Florida Southern. It also allowed him to finish second individually, just one shot behind Jesse Gibson of Columbus State. Gibson, who was -3 (210) and Crouch, who was -2 (211), were the only golfers in the field to break par for the tournament, and Gibson did it with a one-under par 70 in all three rounds. Crouch had the best single round score in the tournament with a 67 in Monday’s first round.
Convery finished in a tie for third place at one-over par 214, putting him four strokes behind Gibson and three behind Crouch. Gard gave the Mocs a third golfer among the tournament leaders with a score of three-over par 216, putting him in a tie for seventh.
Creighton was tied for 43rd with a score of 226, and Leavitt tied for 51st with a 228. Leavitt was the big mover in the final round though, moving up 27 spots, another critical element in Florida Southern’s win.
Originally scheduled for two rounds on Monday and one on Tuesday, a 2-hour rain delay the first day limited most of the teams to around 27 holes. They resumed play Tuesday with Florida Southern holding a 3-stroke lead over Delta State and Columbus State, and Crouch and Convery holding a share of the individual lead. While the two Moccasin golfers ending up finishing second and third respectively, it helped give Florida Southern the team title even after Columbus State had gone ahead at the end of round two.
At that point Tuesday, the Cougars had finished their suspended round with a three-over par 287, while the Moccasins followed their opening round 286 with a 296. That gave the Cougars a 1-stroke lead when round three began, and they were able to widen it slightly behind Gibson, who made the turn at -3, and three other CSU golfers who played their first nine holes at even par.
The Moccasins re-gained the lead in the second half of round three, with Gard’s eagle on the par-five 17 a turning point. The Mocs also got six birdies in the final round from Leavitt.
Florida Southern’s next tournament will be October 8-9, at the Guy Harvey Invitational hosted by Nova Southeastern.