VALDOSTA, GA – With John Coultas shooting a three-under-par 69, and John VanDerLaan adding a two-under-par 70, 2nd-ranked Florida Southern finished the first day of the Southeastern Collegiate tied for sixth place with a team score of 286 (-2). The tournament hosted by Valdosta State features the entire top-10 in the current NCAA Division II national coaches poll along with three other top-20 teams.
In addition to the 69 and 70 turned in by their two senior All-American, the Moccasins also got a 73 from sophomore Chase Ibbotson and a 74 from junior Christian Anderson. Freshman Jacob Penny added a non-counting 75. That was enough to make Florida Southern one of eight teams in the field of 18 to break par Sunday, but it was still nine shots behind top-ranked West Florida, which shot a 277 (-11), and seven behind 19th-ranked Lander, which is currently second with a 279 (-9).
Just ahead of Florida Southern are No. 13 Rollins (-6), No. 8 Newberry (5), and No. 4 Barry (-4). The Moccasins are tied with No. 5 Florida Tech, with both schools just one shot ahead of No. 9 Limestone and two ahead of host Valdosta State.
Coultas was one-over par after seven holes but with birdies on 8, 11, 14, and 15, he closed at three-under to climb into an eighth-place tie with four others. VanDerLaan started his day with bogeys on 1 and 2, but reeled off three straight birdies on 4, 5, and 6. He added two more on the back nine to finish with a 70 that had him tied for 13th.
Ibbotson closed strong two with birdies on 14 and 18 to go two-under for his final five holes and finish the day tied for 33rd. Anderson was tied for 43rd, though he was no worse than one-over for the first 16 holes Sunday. Penny was tied for 57th with his 75 and came back from two early bogeys with a pair of birdies that had him back to even-par with two holes remaining. A double-bogey on 18, however, dropped him back in the standings.
Everyone was chasing West Florida's Chandler Blanchet, who used seven birdies and one eagle on the par-5, 639-yard No. 4 hole to shoot a 64. That came after he bogeyed the first hole of the day. Blanchet owns a two-stroke lead over Lander's Conor Richards, Barry's Jorge Garcia, and Limestone's Will Woodard.
Garcia had a tournament-best eight birdies, and Newberry's Carlos Leandro had two eagles on 4 and 14. Sunday's action also featured a hole-in-one from Saint Leo's Riley Goss on No. 5.
Round two gets underway at Kinderlou Forest Golf Club Monday morning at 9:21, with the Moccasins beginning play at 10:15 a.m.