DANIELS, WV – Florida Southern got off to a fast start Monday morning at the NCAA Division II Men's Golf Championships, but will still need to make up a little bit of ground over the next two days to move on in the finals. Led by seniors Michael VanDerLaan and Christian Anderson, the 8th-ranked Moccasins shot a 299 to finish the day tied for 14th place, but are only five shots out of eighth where they will need to be by the end of Wednesday.
Florida Southern was in the first wave Monday morning at the Resort at Glade Springs, and the Moccasins started quickly. Junior Chase Ibbotson led off the day with a birdie on No. 1, and by the time the entire team was on the course, four of them already had at least one. The lone exception was freshman Max Coutsolioutsos who still parred seven straight holes before his first birdie came on No. 8. That put the Mocs at -6 as Ibbotson was making the turn.
Right behind Coutsolioutsos on the course was VanDerLaan, who put together the Mocs' best run of the day and rode that to their best score. As the third Moccasin golfer to turn, VanDerLaan was two-under through nine with seven pars, and birdies on No. 2 and No. 7. He remained at two-under by parring No. 10 before a bogey on 11 ended his streak. VanDerLaan got back to -2 with his third birdie of the round on 12 and eventually finished with an even-par 72 that has him tied for 13th place individually.
Anderson didn't have the 10-hole bogey-less streak of VanDerLaan, but he was close. Playing in the number one position as the last Moccasin to tee off, Anderson birdied three of his first seven holes to put himself at three-under, and followed a bogey on 8 with another birdie on 9, already his fourth of the day. Though the back nine gave everyone more trouble than the front, Anderson was still sitting at even-par before a double-bogey on the final hole. He's tied for 39th with a 74.
Freshman Johnny Tucker was Florida Southern's third counter with a four-over-par 76 that is tied for 62nd. Tucker, though is tied with Anderson for the team lead with four birdies, picking up two on the front side of the course and two on the back. Similar to Anderson, Tucker had an otherwise solid opening round marred by one hole at the end when he was forced to take a seven on the par-3 No. 17. It was the first time all day Tucker's score moved above +1.
Coutsolioutsos and Ibbotson each carded a 77 and are tied for 76th. Both had better rounds than that score might indicate, however. Coutsolioutsos parred or birdied 15 of his 18 holes, equaling VanDerLaan's total for the day. Ibbotson did that on 14 holes and had the Mocs' best score on the back nine.
Cal State-Monterey Bay, which is ranked 20th, was the only team to break par Monday with a 287 (-1) that included a pair of 71s, a 72, and a 73. The Otters had 13 birdies as a team, which was the same number as Florida Southern, but they were also second to Lindenwood (MO) with 58 pars. The Otters held a one-shot lead over No. 10 Lincoln Memorial and No. 21 Arkansas Tech who are tied for second at even-par 288. Arkansas Tech had a tournament-high 18 birdies Monday along with one eagle, which was a hole-in-one by Andre Jacobs. No other team had more than 15 birdies.
No. 16 Missouri-St. Louis is fourth with a 290 (+2), No. 2 Lynn and Dixie State are tied for fifth at 292 (+4), and No. 3 West Florida is seventh with a 292 (+5). Top-ranked Barry and Trevecca Nazarene are tied for the all-important eighth spot at 294 (+6), just five shots ahead of Florida Southern.
While only one team broke par in the first round, 12 golfers did so and another 12, including VanDerLaan, were at even-par. Leading the way was Arkansas Tech's Shawn Tsai at five-under-par 67, and Lincoln Memorial's Sam Broadhurst at three-under-par 69.
Round two begins Tuesday morning at 7:30, and Florida Southern's first tee time is at noon.