HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Fla. (May 18, 2012) -- There was very little drama during Friday’s final round of the 2012 NCAA Division III Men’s Golf Championships at Mission Inn Resort & Club.
Plain and simple, Oglethorpe was just better than everybody else. The Stormy Petrels shot a less-than-stellar 16-over-par 304 during its final 18 holes. But the day started with a 16-shot advantage against Methodist and ended with a 20-shot cushion on Transylvania as head coach Jim Owen’s squad claimed a second national championship since 2009.
Oglethorpe also saw freshman Anthony Maccaglia claim medalist honors, giving the program it’s second individual championship since 2009 – when another freshman, Olufur Loftsson, won.
“I am way past cloud nine right now,” said Owen, in his 18th year. “Wire-to-wire in Division III is really hard to do. I know in the last 15 years nobody has gone wire-to-wire. The field has been so strong at the top of the food chain.
“When we won it in 2009 we were 16th, fourth, third and first. It’s always a bit of musical chairs because everybody is so even. For us to come out and play this week like we did was just beyond my wildest dreams. I’m thinking a one-stroke win and run to Atlanta.”
Oglethorpe opened the week with a 3-under 285. They were 6-over through the next 36 holes. On Friday, they cruised with a pair of 74s, a 75 and an 81.
Maccaglia started Friday 9-under par, but grinded to a 3-over 75 to finish at 6-under. He was the only player who finished under par for the week.
“I was more focused on doing it for the team,” said Maccaglia, who had two 68s this week. “We came here as a team to win and we were able to do that. Winning medalist, that was just icing on the cake.”
Sophomore Hayden Jones, not in the lineup when the season started, had a steady week and finished at even-par after a 74 on Friday. Sophomore Anthony Amodeo tied for 36th with back-to-back 74s to finish the week. Matt Rebitch, the team’s lone senior, was 1-over the first two days, and ended in a tie for 40th overall. Junior Eric Quinn, the team’s No. 2 player most of the season, did not have the best of weeks. He opened with a 73, but hit a few roadblocks the rest of the way, including a nine on a par-3 that will be talked about for a long time.
“Our team has been good enough this year where I could have a bad day and the other guys picked it up and vice versa,” said Quinn. “That’s why we won a national championship. Honestly, I am not surprised we were able to do this. For most of the spring it has been us and Methodist duking it out. We won conference by 21 shots, so we came into this week playing well.”
Taking a nine is never fun, but grabbing the team championship trophy took some of the sting off of it.
“Apparently, I don’t like 130-yard par-3s because I did it in the fall too,” laughed Quinn. “I doubled it [Friday] too so I played that hole in 8-over this week. It’s golf. It happens.”
The race for second went down to the wire as Transylvania passed Methodist on the final holes, finishing at 39-over. The Monarchs were plus-40.
“Our goal was clearly to get second,” Transylvania head coach Brian Lane said. “These guys have had a quite confidence about them all week. When your college golf coach has a funeral at 11:30 while you are on the course for the final round it’s easy to let your mind wander. But you talk about a party in heaven. Harry Stephenson has them all around him right now.”
A tough week wasn’t without more obstacles on Friday. Jantzen Latham, coming off back-to-back even-par rounds, was rolling through the front nine when his second shot on the par-4 seventh was lost in a tree. Not just lost, but really lost, as the ball never made its way out of a palm tree. Latham had already taken a drop after hitting his tee shot in the hazard. The lost ball meant another drop.
“I have never done that,” said Latham. “I’ve heard of it happening on courses with palm trees but I’ve never seen it and definitely never done it myself. I was trying to hit a cut around it and I thought it just clipped the corner of it. There were probably 10 people standing around and nobody saw it.”
Latham took an eight and eventually shot 80.
“I asked [Jantzen] if he wanted me to climb up there and find it,” Lane joked. “He thought it might look pretty bad if I started climbing that tree. But he didn’t let that bother him; he came back to play.
“Justin [Tereshko] came back and played great after that tough first day. I told the guys that I’d never been so excited after getting my butt kicked like that. Oglethorpe played super all week and it couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of kids and golf coach. I’m really happy for them.”
Tereshko, a senior, opened with 82 but played rounds of 71-73-72 to finish the week. Clay Hinton and Latham tied for 31st with Hunter Frazier tied for 40th and James Dawson also among the top 50.
Methodist, like everybody else, was playing catch-up all week. The Monarchs shot 309 on Friday with Robby Bruns’ 73 leading the way. Mike Duncan, who shot 69 on Thursday, shot 76 over his final 18 holes. Mike Wesko, among the top golfers in DIII entering the week struggled over the last 36 holes, going a combined 22-over.
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps finished off a solid week with a second consecutive 300. CMS’s Tain Lee finished fifth, shooting 76 on Friday, and Brad Shigezawa tied for ninth, shooting 74 over his final round.
Redlands rounded out the top five, 26 shots behind the champions, who return four starters and a squad that will most likely be tough to beat.