Florida Southern senior Michael VanDerLaan earned a spot on the PING Division II All-American Team Wednesday night after winning the Division II Arnold Palmer Award given to the individual national champion. It's the 15th year in a row the Moccasins have had at least one All-American, and the seventh straight year they've put one on the First Team.
With his winning score of nine-under-par 207, VanDerLaan lowered his stroke average to 73.50 this season, which is the best on the team going into the medal play portion of the national championship tournament. He had rounds 72, 69, and 66 during stroke play to move from 13th place to sixth and finally first at the end of the final round. That made him the 10th individual national champion in team history, fourth this decade, and first under rookie head coach Lee White. The 10 individual champions are an NCAA Division II record and no team has ever had four in the same decade since the tournament began in 1963. Tim Crouch won in 2013 and '14, and John VanDerLaan won in 2018.
In addition to leading Florida Southern in stroke average this year, VanDerLaan is also tops in top-10 finishes, individual winning percentage and under-par/even-par rounds. The national championship was his third top-five finish of the season after he had tied for fourth at the Columbus State Cougar Invitational in September with a five-under-par 208, and been runner-up at the Newberry College Invitational in February with a one-over-par 217.
VanDerLaan was one of five golfers from the Sunshine State Conference to earn First Team All-American honors, accounting for more than half of the selections.
Division II PING First-Team All-Americans
Christian Bosso, West Florida
Sam Broadhurst, Lincoln Memorial
Toto Gana, Lynn
Jorge Garcia, Barry
Juan Jose Guerra, Nova Southeastern
Zach James, Southeastern Oklahoma State
Vincent Norrman, Georgia Southwestern
Michael VanDerLaan, Florida Southern
Niclas Weiland, Barry