Notes, Quotes and Photos from the Third Round of the NCAA Division III Championships in Greensboro

Flash Notes and Quotes – From Thursday’s third round

Locals Climb into First
Greensboro College, which holds a three-shot lead going into Friday’s fourth and final round of the NCAA Men’s Division III Golf Championship, is trying to duplicate the success it had in the tournament in 2000.

Under then coach Robert Linville, a 1908 Guilford College graduate, the Pride won the team title and Greensboro’s Kevin O’Connell won the individual crown at the tournament played in Battle Creek, Mich.

After 12 years, not much has changed. In 2000, Greensboro won by a stroke over Methodist University of Fayetteville in a tournament shortened to three rounds due to weather. This year, Methodist is in second place going into last round, only three shots back. Methodist is the defending team champion, having won last year in Hershey, Pa., by one shot over Guilford.

The Quakers are in seventh place this year after 54 holes, 15 shots behind arch-rival Greensboro. Miracles can happen. The Quakers made up 11 shots last year to finish a single shot behind Methodist.

Thursday, Greensboro was led by Josh Nichols of Waxhaw, N.C., with a 72, followed by Brock Elder of Randleman, N.C., (74), Connor Kennedy of Siler City, N.C., (75) and Kirk Mitchell of North Wilkesboro, N.C. (76).

In individual play, Elder is tied for 11th at 218; Mitchell tied for 14th at 220; Ben Nihart tied for 16th at 221.

Guilford’s Noah Ratner of Asheville, N.C., is tied for eighth at 217 and the Quakers’ Dusty Roberts of Reidsville, N.C. is tied for 16 at 221.

Morris vs. Lee – Take II
A year ago it was Chris Morris of Centre College of Kentucky chasing Tain Lee of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges of California for the NCAA Division III golf individual title.

Roles are reversed this year. Lee, after his game collapsed Thursday on the back nine at Grandover Resort, finds himself trailing Morris by five shots.

At the 2010 event at Hershey, Pa., Morris made a run at Lee, but faded. The Californian finished first, four shots ahead of Morris, who placed third.

“No hard feelings,” Morris said after finishing his round of 71 Thursday on a misty, overcast day.

“Tain’s a great guy. I’ve played in a few summer tournaments with him,” he said.

Morris started Thursday’s round at 12 under after ripping Grandover’s two courses with a 67 and 65 in the opening rounds. Lee was eight-under, shooting a 69 and 67.

Lee made a run on the front nine Thursday, getting to 12 under and a tie with Morris after birding the short par-4 eighth hole where he nearly chipped in for an eagle. But he three-putted the ninth hole for a bogey, made another bogey on the back side, then saw his round blow up on the par-4 18th hole.

Lee hit his shot way left into a hazard. After taking a one-shot penalty, he hit his third shot well short of the green. His fourth ball landed on the fringe of the green and he took three to get down for a double-bogey seven. He finished with an even-par 72.

It could have been worse, the junior from San Juan Capistrano, Calif., said.

“I got away with a few bad shots on the front side,” he said. “On the back side my game caught up with me. I didn’t feel comfortable out there.”

Morris, meanwhile, wasn’t overjoyed with his own finish. He knocked it to within three feet on the eighth hole – he started his round on the 10th hole – and missed the putt. He then knocked it stiff on his final hole, the ninth, but missed the five- to six-foot birdie putt. His round of 71 makes him 13 under going into Friday’s finale, with Lee entering at eight under.

“I played well,” said Morris, a senior from Maysville, Ky. “The ball striking was really good today. My speed was off on the greens, however, maybe because of the dew. But I managed to still shoot one under.”

His parents, grandfather, sister and brother arrived and watched him Thursday and will be in the gallery Friday.

“It would be nice to get this title after four years at Centre and dedicating my whole life to golf,” he said. “It has been a lot of hard work and a lot of time spent.”

Inaugural Division III Golf Video Webcast Set for Friday’s Final Round
Players and teams competing in Greensboro for the NCAA Division III golf championship won’t be the only ones facing a challenge entering the tournament’s final round Friday. Brandon Gaudin of Indianapolis, Ind., will be on edge, too.

He’ll make history by doing the first webcast – Internet television – of a Division III golf championship at He and four camera operators will try to cover almost the entire field of 15 teams and six individual players. But it will be only one hole – the scenic 18th on Grandover’s East Course. It offers waterfalls, a lake, English-like stone bridges and a view of the towering Grandover Hotel and Convention Center.

To add to the challenge, Gaudin says, “I have never done golf. I’m a big golf fan, a bad golf player and a big golf watcher.”

He’s got impressive broadcast credentials, however. At age 27, he’s the announcer for the Butler University Bulldogs, the small school that has made it to the championship game of the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament each of the last two years

When not working for his alma mater Butler, he does free-lance gigs for the NCAA, which has its headquarters in Indianapolis.

The NCAA told him to head for Greensboro. He landed Thursday afternoon, and 90 minutes later had a table in a dining area of the Grandover Resort covered with papers and programs.

“I’m trying (fast) to learn the teams and players, coaches and any nuggets, so tomorrow when the on air light goes on I’ll know what I’m talking about,” Gaudin said.

He surmises that the NCAA decided to do the Division III golf tournament after signing a new TV deal with Turner Broadcasting, which included Turner doing some NCAA basketball tournament games in March. Turner has outsourced the Division III webmaster to an Indianapolis company, Web Screen Productions. The NCAA has webcast the Division I and II golf championships before. In fact, Gaudin will soon be an experienced golf announcer. He’ll do the Division II tournament webcast next week in Florence, Ala.

Here, it will just be Gaudin, plus four people with handheld cameras on the course and beside the green. There will be no on-course commentator telling Gaudin about club selection and what type of lie a player faces with his next shot.

“It’s not going to be like Jim Nantz,” he said, referring to CBS’ chief golf announcer, “having people telling his ears what’s going on. But that’s okay, we’ll get through it.”

Lake Wobegon in Greensboro
Saint John’s University of Minnesota, which is tied for fourth entering Friday’s the final round of the NCAA Men’s Division III Championship at Grandover Resort, has to contend one of at least four other institutions named St. John’s in the United States. There’s the big St. John’s in New York City, which plays its Division I basketball games in Madison Square Garden. There’s St. John’s College, which has a campus in Annapolis, Md., and another by the same name in Santa Fe, N.M. It’s famous for its curriculum, which emphasizes the teaching of literature’s great books.

But one thing that Saint John’s of Minnesota holds over the others: Lake Wobegon. A trail by that name, honoring the fictional hometown of “A Prairie Home Companion” host Garrison Keillor, winds through the 2,500-acre campus in Collegeville. Keillor grew up about five miles from Saint John’s in Avon, Minn.

Saint John’s also distinguishes itself from other schools by spelling its name Saint, instead of just St. It also differs from the others – and thousands of other colleges – by being all-male. Technically, Hampden-Sydney and Wabash colleges are the only all male colleges left in America. Saint John’s has a partnership with the all-female College of Saint Benedict, which has its own campus six miles away. Students attend classes on both campuses and there is a common curriculum.

But make no mistake, says the Catholic schools’ website, “Each college retains its own campus, residence halls, athletic programs and traditions.”

Saint John’s also has something else to hold over all American schools: the most winning and longest-serving football coach in all of football, regardless of division.

John Gagliardi has completed 58 years as the Johnnies’ coach and accumulated 478 wins, 129 loses and 11 ties. He has won four national championships, the latest in 2003. Counting four years he put in as coach at Carroll University, whose golf team was also in this week’s 40-member field, Gagliardi has 62 years as a head coach. He’s famous for his non-tackling and whistle-less practices and insistence that players call him John, instead of “Coach.”

The golf team ain’t bad, either. This is its 12th consecutive NCAA appearance. The Johnnies won the team title in 2007 and 2008.