SUNRIVER, Ore. ' On a day that saw only one team shoot a sub-par round, Francis Marion University used another all-around team effort to secure its first-ever national golf title by winning the NCAA Division II Men's Golf National Championship Tournament, Friday (May 23) at the Crosswater Golf Club in Sunriver, Ore.
In claiming the title, Francis Marion led at the end of every round including a 14-shot cushion when the sun set over Cascade Mountain Range on Friday. The four-day, 72-hole tournament included 18 teams and 12 individuals and was contested on the par-72, 7,296-yard Crosswater Club course.
For fans wishing to greet the squad, the team will return to the Florence Regional Airport at 10:28 PM on Saturday evening.
FMU, which led by three strokes after 18 holes and eight strokes after two rounds, entered Fridays play with a commanding 19-stroke advantage over the University of North Alabama and California State University at Stanislaus. Although the Patriots posted their highest score of the tournament, a 6-over-par 294, the remainder of the field offered only a brief challenge. Defending national champion Rollins College recorded the low team round on Friday, a 2-under 286, and did close to within 11 strokes of the Patriots late in the day, but the Patriot advantage was too much to overcome.
Francis Marion ended the tournament at 3-under par 1,149, 14 strokes ahead of Rollins (1,163). CSU Stanislaus compiled a final-round 9-over 294 score and finished third at 1,171. California State University at Bakersfield (1,172) was fourth followed by the host school California State University at Chico (1,174).
Only four shots (73-77) separated the five FMU scores on Friday. That followed a Thursday performance that had the five-man squad shoot between 69 and 74.
In the final round, senior Matt Dura and junior Per Hallberg led Francis Marion with 1-over-par 73 scores. FMU junior Fredrik Ohlsson carded a 2-over 74 and finished fifth in the individual standings at 3-under-par 285 (70-72-69-74). The All-American also set a Patriot season record for lowest stroke average (72.27).
Senior Dylan Keylock fired a 5-over 77 on Friday to drop into sixth place at 2-under 286 (68-70-71-77). Dura completed a steady tournament carding his third 73 and finishing 14th at 3-over 291 (73-73-72-73). Senior Juan Pablo Bossi shot a 74 on Friday and ended tied for 24th place at 7-over 295 (77-71-73-74). Hallberg tied for 44th position with an 11-over 299 tally (73-79-74-73).
The Patriots recorded the low team round on both Tuesday and Thursday, while posting the second-lowest team round on Wednesday. FMU was the only team to post three sub-par rounds.
The Patriots become the second straight at-large selection to win the national championship and continue a trend of champions with a Southern favor. Francis Marion earned the invite after rallying to finish second at the Southeast Regional in Greensboro, Ga., May 5-7. Rollins won last years title after receiving an at-large invitation. Each of the past 12, and 19 of the past 20 national champions have come from the Southeastern United States.
This was Francis Marions third trip to the national championship since joining Division II in 1992. The Patriots finished 10th in 2002 and 15th in 1998. All five current FMU golfers also participated in the 2002 national tournament. Prior to joining the NCAA in 1992, FMU made seven appearances in the NAIA national tournament, finishing tied for seventh in 1973, seventh in 1974, fourth in 1976, 10th in 1977, eighth in 1979, tied for sixth in 1991, and 16th in 1992.
Francis Marion, ranked 12th in the latest Precept Division II Coaches Top 25 poll, ends its season with a 129-43-2 record. Entering the tournament, the Patriots were 3-13 against other teams in the national field.