Eagles Win 2011 Southern Conference Golf Championship
FLORENCE, S.C. - The Georgia Southern Golf team, down by four strokes to start the final round, drove down the back stretch to capture the 2011 Southern Conference Championship. The Eagles finished the final round 6-under to post a 3-under 861 tournament total, five strokes ahead of second-place UNC Greensboro (+2). Chattanooga finished in third-place (+3). This is the third SoCon title for Georgia Southern as Coach Larry Mays and the Eagles won the championship in 2006 and 2003.
The victory gives Georgia Southern its third straight NCAA Regional Appearance and 10th all-time.
"This was special, I was proud of all of them for hanging in there," said Head Coach Larry Mays on his team's effort. "We have had kind of a rough year and have not been able to put together three solid rounds to finish off a tournament. To do that, and to do it the way we did it, it's incredible."
The Eagles saved their best round for last, shooting a 282 at the par 72, 7,062-yard course for the lowest round of the tournament. It's Georgia Southern's best round of the season and lowest at the SoCon Golf Championships since the team's opening round 278 (-10) in 2009.
Junior Lewis Gruber (Tallahassee, Fla.) finished one-stroke off the lead in the individual standings and finished in second place with an 8-under 208 (68-72-68). Senior Logan Blondell (Lakeland, Fla.), who was named to the All-Conference team, closed out the tournament with an 4-under 212 (72-70-70) for third place.
"Obviously, having a guy finish second and third puts our team in a great position to succeed," stated Mays. "Logan saved us yesterday on the back nine and Lewis did it today. For both guys to come out and play the way they did was huge for us."
The Eagles started the back nine five-strokes back from first-place Chattanooga. Blondell and Gruber, who helped Georgia Southern keep pace with the Mocs going into the final round, chipped away at the lead. Blondell carded back-to-back birdies on the 11th and 12th hole, while Gruber played holes No. 10, 12 and 14 at 3-under. The pair, coupled with a birdie on the 11th green from Hayden Anderson (Knoxville, Tenn.), put the Eagles within two strokes of Chattanooga going into the final three holes.
"We told them to keep their head down and keep grinding," said Mays as he recalled his speech to the team last night. "If we can stay with them (Chattanooga) to the last three holes, then we have a chance. It was going to take a team-wide effort. I told the guys to not worry about what the other teams are doing, to just stay positive and not to give any shots away."
The Eagles heeded the message as the team finished even-par on the final three holes to close the championship. Birdies by Gruber on the par-3 16th and Anderson on the par-4 18th erased bogeys on the team's scorecard. In contrast, Chattanooga posted four bogeys and two double-bogeys during the same stretch of holes coming into the clubhouse.
"It got down to two shots and I communicated to Carter [Collins] that it would come down to the last three holes," stated Mays. "That stretch has been our Achilles Heel the past couple of SoCon Championships. We played the last three holes even and they shot them 8-over. That was the big difference."
Gruber finished his round with five birdies, four on the backside, to sign for his second 68 (-4) of the tournament. Blondell started off his round with an eagle on the par-5 second, along with a birdie on the fourth hole. Two birdies down the final nine-holes helped Blondell record a 2-under 70.
Anderson made the biggest jump in the standings, moving up 20 spots to a tie for 21st-place finish with a 5-over 221 (76-75-70). The freshman opened his round at two-under after the first two holes and did not let it slip away. After dropping a stroke on the 16th, he birdied on the final hole to maintain his 2-under 70.
Matt Deal (Statesboro, Ga.) finished one stroke behind Anderson at 6-over for the tournament. Deal closed the final round with a 2-over 74 for a tie for 25th-place. Florian Sander (Bregenz, Austria) shot a 3-over 75 on the last day of the championship to finish in a 37th-place tie (74-76-75=225).
The Georgia Southern Golf team will now start preparations for the NCAA Regionals. The NCAA Golf Selection Committee will announce the 2011 NCAA Division I Golf Regional Selections on May 9th.
Follow the Eagle Golf team on GeorgiaSouthernEagles.com/golf or get short updates on facebook.com/GSAthletics or twitter.com/GSAthletics.
- Category: Golf
- Published on Sunday, 24 April 2011 23:21