HERSHEY, Pa. – Every few minutes, radio calls came into the scorers’ room from officials around the course at the NCAA Division II men’s golf team match championship. The later in the day it got, the more intriguing the reports became.
This was going to be close. Very, very close.
Group one, hole 17. Barry four, Lynn four.
Group three, hole 16. Barry four, Lynn five.
Group four, hole 15. Barry five, Lynn four.
Group two, hole 17. Barry five, Lynn five.
In the end, after the teams evenly split their individual matches 2-2 with one tie, it all came down to a total-stroke tiebreaker.
The winner? Barry, by four strokes — 403-399. It was the Bucs’ second national championship and first since 2007.
“It’s unbelievable,” head coach Jimmy Stobs said. “Every year, our goal is to win the national championship, just like Nova Southeastern, Lynn and all the top programs. When it’s reality, it’s very satisfying, especially for the kids.
“They’re the ones who do all the work. They have to go to class, have to go to practice, have to go to workouts, study hall. When you’re a student athlete, you give up things and you sacrifice. I kept telling them, if you get there, it’s worth it.”
Friday could not have been much different than most of the rest of the week had been. The two teams were met by heavily overcast skies, cool temperatures and wind gusts that made it seem downright frigid.
Mother Nature was such a factor, Barry freshman Adam Svensson’s four-over par was the best score of the day.
“It made a big difference,” Stobs said of the dramatic weather change. “We were playing in 30 [mph winds], with gusts up to 50. The pin placements were the toughest all week, by far. The weather made it very difficult. I felt bad for all 10 guys, because of all that pressure, and then you put the wind and the tough pin placement on top of it.”
Asked what it was like to watch from the sidelines on such a day when so much was at stake, Stobs first let out a huge sigh before answering. Scott Smyers lost to Lynn’s Daniel Young in the second group and then Jared Dalga also struggled in the fourth.
According to Stobs, it was Dalga who concerned him the most.
“He wasn’t playing very well,” Stobs began. “You could tell his mind was not functioning. He three-putted number 17 from 10 feet for a double-bogey. I went up to him and said, ‘Listen, you’re going to lose your match, but don’t lose any more shots because it’s going to come down to a tiebreaker.’”
The conversation got Dalga’s attention, and he went on to actually gain a stroke on his final hole of the day. Then, when Svensson bested Lynn’s Roberto Francioni by two strokes in the final pairing, it came down to the tie-breaker.
The championship was Barry’s.
Earlier in the week, Stobs had talked about the competitive rivalry between his school, Nova Southeastern and Lynn — schools that are separated by just a few miles each in southern Florida. To win here, with both teams very much in the hunt, was especially satisfying for Stobs.
“Nova and Lynn have outstanding programs,” said Stobs, who has been the Barry head men’s golf coach for 11 years now. “I said at the beginning of the year that I thought those three teams were the best in the country, and I still think that those are the best three teams in the country.
“We won four times during the regular season, won our conference and won some big tournaments. But we also came in second a few times, disappointingly. I told the guys to just keep working, that the big one was at the end.”
When crunch time came, his guys were going to be ready for it.
“I told the kids that somebody was going to have a putt that they were going to have to make, and it’s going to be at the national championship,” Stobs said. “I told them, ‘You’d better start preparing for it now. Don’t be afraid of it. Embrace it.’ And they did that.”
View results for NCAA Division II Golf Championship