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Matlock Invite: Dark Horse Tops Field

LAKELAND, Fla. (Feb. 17, 2009) -- There were a lot of people at this week’s Matlock Collegiate Classic asking where Clayton State was located. Now they know. The school from just outside Atlanta used a near-record score by Will Wilcox, and a 277 team score in the second round to win the 28th annual event by six strokes over another Georgia school, Columbus State.

The Lakers (ranked #20 in the country) played in their first Matlock tournament last year and finished seventh, but this year they jumped all the way to the top. Monday’s score of 277 gave them a 12-stroke lead going into the final round and they were never seriously challenged despite a 294 on Tuesday. Their 3-round total of 858 made the Lakers the first team in 11 years to break par in the tournament, and their -6 was the best score for any team since 1997 when Augusta State shot a -14 and Wake Forest had a -7.

Wilcox was the catalyst, carding scores of 68, 67 and 70 for a final total of 11-under par 205. That tied for the second lowest score in the tournament’s 28-year history, falling one short of the record set by Florida Southern’s Jeff Klauk in 2000. Wilcox and Colin Dolph of Rollins each broke par in every round, with Dolph finishing second with an eight-under 208. That was the best score for a runner-up in 14 years.

Clayton State’s 12-stroke lead was the largest any team had ever held at the end of two rounds. Even with Wilcox as their only golfer shooting better than 74, the Lakers had more than enough Tuesday to hold off Columbus State. The 5th-ranked Cougars had started the day tied for eighth place and trailing by 19 strokes, but their 281 was by far the best score in the final round. They got a 68 from J.P. van der Walt and three 71’s, matching Clayton State’s accomplishment in the second round with all four counters shooting under par. Prior to that, it hadn’t been done by any team at the Matlock since 1998.

Defending national champion West Florida finished in third place, 11 strokes behind Clayton State and five behind Columbus State. Georgia College and Newberry (SC) rounded out the top five.

It was Newberry that had taken the early lead in the tournament with a first-round score of four-under par 284. The Indians got a 69 from Matthew Campbell on Tuesday, but no one else had better than a 75.

Host Florida Southern had a disappointing finish. Despite entering the tournament ranked #3 in the country (the highest ranking for any team in the field), the Moccasins placed ninth with a score of 879 (291-297-291). The Mocs had won three of the last four Matlock titles and five times since 2000.

The Mocs’ best score of the day came from Matt Stauch who shot a 71. He finished tied for 10th place with teammate Jude Eustaquio as both golfers were at even par for the tournament. Eustaquio again finished strong with birdies on four of his final six holes. Brian Richey shot a 72 on Tuesday and finished tied for 28th.

--Courtesy Florida Southern

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