KEY BISCAYNE - Heading into the final nine holes of the 2016 Sunshine State Conference Championships here Tuesday afternoon fourth-ranked Florida Southern was just five shots behind Lynn after having its four counters card a 1-under as a team to move into second place on the front nine at Crandon Golf at Key Biscayne, but faltered down the stretch as they shot 15-over as a team on the final nine holes to post a third place finish overall behind Lynn and Saint Leo.
While Florida Southern shot a 1-under on the front nine in Tuesday's final round, Lynn carded a 10-over as a team and Saint Leo shot 3-over as a team, but on the back nine, Lynn's four counters shot even par, while SLU's four counters fired a 6-over to finish in front of the Mocs.
For the tournament, the Moccasins shot a 908 for 54 holes to finish 21 shots behind Lynn, who won its second consecutive SSC title after firing an 887 for 54 holes and were nine shots behind runner-up Saint Leo, who carded an 899 for 54 holes. In Tuesday's final round, the Mocs shot 302 (+14), which was the third best round of the day as only Lynn's 296 (+8) and Saint Leo's 297 (+9) were better.
Barry finished a distant fourth as the seventh-ranked Buccaneers fired a final round 303 to push its 54 hole total score to 922, while Florida Tech was fifth with a 928 after shooting a final round 321 and fifth-ranked Nova Southeastern finished sixth with a 929 for 54 holes after the Sharks shot a fina round 315.
Leading the way for the Mocs was sophomore All-American John Coultas (Valrico, Fla.). Coultas, who entered the final round tied for first place with Lynn's Martin Cancino, fired a final round 79 (+7) to fall into a tie for sixth place after 54 holes with a seven-over 223. For the tournament, Coultas fired rounds of 69 and 75, before his 79 on Tuesday. After playing the front nine in the final round at 2-over 37, Coultas shot a 5-over 42 on the back nine. On the day, he recorded three birdies, six bogeys, two double bogeys and seven pars on his final round scorecard.
In addition to Coultas, sophomore All-American John VanDerLaan (Southbury, Conn.) shot a final round 74 to push his 54 hole total to 225 (+9) and finish in a tie for eighth place. VanDerLaan, who was the defending SSC individual medalist, closed the tournament with back-to-back rounds of 74 after shooting a 77 in Sunday's first rohnd. In Tuesday's final round, VanDerLaan opened by shooting a 1-under 34 on the front nine, before carding a 3-over 40 on the back nine. On the day, VanDerLaan recorded four birdies, four bogeys, a double bogey and nine pars on his scorecard.
Lynn's Manuel Torres took home individual medalist honors after shooting a 2-under 70 in the final round to push his 54 hole total to 219 (+3). Torres entered Tuesday's final round sitting in a tie for fifth place, but his 70, which was tied for the lowest round of the day, pushed him up to the top of the leaderboard.
Torres won by two shots over Barry's Niclas Weiland, Saint Leo's Ryan Gendron and Cancino, who alll finished with 54 hole scores of 221 (+5). In Tuesday's final round, Weiland shot a 70, while Gendron had a 74 and Cancino fired a 77.
For the tournament, none of the nine teams shot a round under par on the 7,015-yard Crandon Golf at Key Biscayne course, which is ranked as the third most difficult municipal course in the United States. For the tournament, the average score was a 79 all three days and the last time the average scores were that high over multiple rounds was in 1996 at Sugar Mill in New Smyrna Beach, which was a two-round tournament.
In addition to having none of the teams shot under par, none of the 45 golfers in the field finished with a score under par for the tournament. In fact, there were only 11 scores of par or better by the entire tournament, including seven in Tuesday's final round.
The Mocs third counter for the tournament was freshman Christian Anderson (Ocala, Fla.) as he carded a final round 72, which was the best score of the entire round by a Moccasin golfer. After shooting an 86 in Sunday's first round, Anderson rebounded to shoot a 73 and 72 over the final two rounds respectively and finish in a tie for 17th with a 231 (+15) for 54 holes. In Tuesday's final round, Anderson recorded three birdies, three bogeys and 12 pars on his scorecard.
FSC's fourth and final counter for the event was sophomore Jimmy Jones (Tampa, Fla.) as the honorable mention All-American posted a final round 77 to finish in a tie for 20th place with a 234 (+18) for 54 holes. Jones' scores got improved by one stroke each round as he opened with a 79 in the opening round, before carding a 78 in the second round and a final round 77. On Tuesday, he recorded five birdies, six bogeys, two double bogeys and five pars and after playing the front nine at 2-under 33, he shot a 7-over 44 on the back nine.
For the tournament, Jones was second in birdies with 11 and was one of nine players to record an eagle.
The Mocs final competitor was junior Levin Hoffmann (Sarstedt, Germany) as he closed the final round with an 80 to finish with a 54 hole total of 239 (+23) and place in a tie for 27th overall. Hoffmann carded rounds of 81, 78 and 80. In Tuesday's final round, Hoffmann recorded eight bogeys and 10 pars on his scorecard.
Florida Southern, who has won an SSC best 16 conference titles and a Division II 12 national championships, will return to the course on May 2-4 as they are expected to receive an at-large berth in the NCAA Division II South/Southeast Super Regional, which will be hosted by the SSC and the Central Florida Sports Commission and held at the Mission Inn's El Campeon Course at Howey-In-The-Hills, Fla.
The super regional will feature a total of 20 teams (10 from each region), including automatic qualifiers and eight individuals not on one those 20 teams for selection to the tournament. In the South Region, the SSC, Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and the Gulf South Conference each award an automatic bid to their conference tournament champion. The top five teams and top two individuals not with a team (regardless of region) will advance to the Division II National Championships, which is scheduled for May 16-20 at the at the Green Valley Ranch Golf Club in Denver, Colo., and is a part of this year's Division II Spring Sports Championship Festival.
Final Round Tournament Notes
* - Crandon Golf produced average scores above 79 on all three days. The last time average scores were that high over multiple rounds was in 1996 at Sugar Mill in New Smyrna Beach. The 1996 tournament was a two-round event.
* - Lynn's Manuel Torres became only the seventh golfer to win the championship with a score above par.
* - Saint Leo's Joey Savoie is the 18th golfer to finish Top-10 at the event three or more times. Florida Southern's John VanDerLaan, Florida Southern's John Coultas and Saint Leo's Ryan Gendron earn their second Top-10 finishes.
* - Torres is the second individual from Lynn to win medalist honors at the SSC Championships as Keir McNicoll won in 2004 at Doral.
* - Lynn becomes the third straight school to win back-to-back SSC team titles as prior to Lynn winning the past two years, Barry took home back-to-back titles in 2013 and 2014 and Nova Southeastern won titles in 2011 and 2012.
* - Lynn is now one of four league schools to win at least four men's golf championships as along with Lynn, Florida Southern has won 16 titles, while Rollins and Nova Southeastern have taken home five league titles each.