HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Fla. – Wittenberg University staged a late rally and edged Guilford College by two strokes, 1,180-1,182, to win the 2017 NCAA Division III Men’s Golf Championship Friday at the Mission Inn Resort and Club.
Tigers senior Garrett Brickley birdied the final two holes to shoot four-under-par 68 and share first place in the 215-man field. The Ohio school captured its first national men’s golf title after finishing third in the previous two NCAA tourneys. The University of Texas-Tyler placed third this year at 1,188, followed by top-ranked Huntingdon College, which tied Greensboro College for fourth place at 1,190.
Hope College’s Josh Gibson shot five-under 67 Friday and won a one-hole playoff with Brickley to earn medalist honors. Texas-Tyler’s George Toone shot 70 Friday to claim third place with a 72-hole 288, two strokes better than LaGrange College’s Logan Lanier (290). The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor’s Mats Helen tied Gibson with Friday’s low round, which vaulted him 15 spots into fifth place at 291.
Ranked 19th in Golfstat.com’s Division III Relative Rankings, Guilford entered Friday’s fourth and final round on the par-72, 6,844-yard El Campeon Course in second place, two strokes behind Wittenberg. The Quakers slipped ahead on the back nine, but the 11th-ranked Tigers caught fire down the stretch. Led by Brickley, Wittenberg played the final two holes at four-under-par, while Guilford played the same stretch at even par. One of the Tigers’ three seniors, Brickley birdied three of the final five holes for Friday’s third-best score. Classmate Mark David Wright was six-over after 13 holes, but played his last five holes at two-under par to salvage a 76, Wittenberg’s fourth and final score. Senior Sam Stillwell birdied 18 for a one-over 73, and sophomore teammate Colin Lazlo birdied the 17th hole in his round of 76.
The Quakers matched the Tigers with a round of 293 Friday and finished at 300-293-296-293-1,182 for the tournament, the eighth-best 72-hole score in school history. Senior Ty Palmer (Kernersville, N.C./Forsyth Country Day) completed his illustrious career on a high note with an even-par 72 that included an eagle two on the par-four 16th and a birdie on 18. Teammate Zachary Evens (Mercer Island, Wash./Mercer Island) also saved his best for last. The rookie played most of the round under par before settling for a bogey on 18 and a 72. Sophomore Josh Hill (Superior, Colo./Monarch) parred the last 13 holes in his round of 74 that clinched a team-best 12th-place individual finish. Teammate Harrison Frye (High Point, N.C./High Point Central) had a club-best five birdies in his wild round of 75. Rookie Kell Graham (Matthews, N.C./Charlotte Christian) was even through 14 holes, but two double bogeys left him at 76.
The Quakers placed four golfers among the top-30 individuals, led by Hill’s 12th-place score of 294 (+6). Palmer’s strong finish moved him into a share of 24th place among individuals with his teammate Graham at 298. Palmer, a 2015 All-American who took fifth at that year’s Championships, will graduate Saturday with a 75.5773 career stroke average, 13th-best in school history. Evens shot 300 in his NCAA debut, good for a share of 30th place. Frye’s 72-hole 304 placed 42nd individually.
Coach Justin Tereshko guided Guilford to its third runner-up result in the Division III Tournament. The Quakers, who won the event in 2002 and 2005, finished second by one stroke in both 2001 and 2010. Guilford also earned second-place finishes in the NAIA National Championships from 1985-87.
Tereshko loses Palmer and fellow senior Kendall Dunn to graduation from this year’s group, which won a league-record 16th Old Dominion Athletic Conference title. The Quakers could host as many as five events next season, including the NCAA Championships. Grandover Resort in Greensboro hosts the national tournament for the fourth time in eight years in 2018.