MELBOURNE – Christian Anderson got Florida Southern off to a roaring start Sunday morning with four straight birdies on his way to an opening-round 69, John VanDerLaan and John Coultas each shot a two-under par 70, and Michael VanDerLaan added a 72 to give the 4th-ranked Moccasins a team score of 281 to start the 2017 Sunshine State Conference Men's Golf Championships.
The first round of the SSC Championships at Duran Golf Club lived up to its billing with 2nd-ranked Barry posting an eight-under par 280, and Florida Southern and 5th-ranked Nova Southeastern each shooting a 281. Florida Tech, which is ranked No. 7 in the country, was only four shots back with a 284, No. 25 Saint Leo was seven back with a 287, and No. 3 Lynn was at even-par 288. Between them, those six schools had 13 of the 18 golfers in the field who broke par on Sunday, and Barry and Florida Southern each had three.
Anderson was playing in the third position in the lineup but had the Mocs' best score, and the third best score of his career. The sophomore from Ocala had been averaging 75.11 strokes per round but birdied the par-5 No. 1 to start the day and followed it with three more birdies to drop to four-under par just four holes into play. After a bogey on 5, Anderson parred nine straight holes before his fifth birdie of the day came on the par-5 No. 15.
Finishing with a 69, Anderson matched his second round score from the Panther Invitational that was played on the same course in early March, and was two strokes off his career-best score of 67 set in October of 2015 at the McDonough Cup, and again earlier this season at the Saint Leo Invitational. That 69 put him in a four-way tie for fourth in the individual standings, two strokes behind Nova Southeastern's Juan Jose Guerra.
John VanDerLaan was two-under after four holes and eventually finished that way after five birdies of his own gave him a 70. Coultas had the same score, but with four birdies, including three straight on 9, 10, and 11. Michael VanDerLaan wasn't far behind them either, after making the turn at two-under and going on to equal his best round of the season with an even-par 72. That added up to Florida Southern's total of 281, the Mocs' best since they had the same score in the final round of the Matlock Classic on February 14.
Freshman Chase Ibbotson turned in a 74, but his score was not counted. He had a total of three birdies and was one four Moccasins who did that on the first hole. It was No. 18 that caused the Mocs the most trouble, however, with four of their five golfers picking up a bogey there. They had 11 holes with no bogeys, and three others with only one.
Barry had two of its golfers shoot in the 60s, with Mike Anderson carding a 68, and Kyle Brey turning in a 69 with a bogey-free round. Mario Beltran was also under par with a 71, and Niclas Weiland shot a 72.
With Guerra shooting a 67 for Nova Southeastern, the Sharks were able to gain a share of second place after counting scores of 70, 72, and 72 on top of that. None of the top four teams in the tournament counted anything worse than a 72.
The second round of the SSC Championships begins Monday morning at 8 a.m. at Duran Golf Club.