Guilford Finishes Ninth at NCAA Championships
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Hometown favorite Greensboro College claimed its second NCAA Division III Men's Golf Championship Friday, holding off Illinois Wesleyan University at Grandover Resort's East course. After Illinois Wesleyan took a one-stroke lead after 14 holes of the final round, Greensboro made three birdies over the last four holes and tied the Titans and Centre College for the day's low round (290). The Pride finished at 15-over-par 1167 in the 40-team tournament, six strokes better than the Titans' 1173 total.
Centre's Chris Morris shot 14-under-par 274 to take medalist honors in the 205-man field. The senior shot one-under-par 71 Friday and defeated defending national champion Tain Lee of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges by four strokes. Morris made five of his tourney-high 23 birdies Friday, including four on his first nine holes. Lee carded a two-under 70 Friday and finished 10 under for the tournament at 278. LaGrange College senior Hudson Keener carded a four-under 68 Friday and placed third at 279, one stroke better than Texas Lutheran University's Ryan Kiel, who shot a final-round 69.
Greensboro, which also won the 2000 Division III title, earned its 14th top-five national tournament finish in 29 appearances. The Pride played confidently in Friday's final round on the par-72, 7,045-yard layout under damp and muggy conditions. In just his second season as a college head coach, Dirk Fennie captured his first national crown after helping Greensboro place 11th in the 2010 championships.
Playing at the resort that has employed him for the past three years, Greensboro senior Brock Elder saved his best round for last, a bogey-free, five-under-par 67 that included birdies on four of the last nine holes. Elder had the day's low score (along with Centre's Grant Hinton) and jumped six places to finish fifth in the field at three-under 265. Teammate Ben Nihart also finished strong, carding a one-under 71 Friday that helped him place 11th individually at 292. Rookie Kirk Mitchell was four-over at the turn, but battled on the back nine to finish with a 75 (+3) and place 16th with a four-day 295. Elder earned PING First Team All-America honors from the Golf Coaches Association of America, while Nihart and Mitchell made the second-team unit.
After starting the day in fourth place, Illinois Wesleyan came out firing for the pins and was one-under-par at the turn. The Titans dipped to three-under a few holes later and momentarily tied Greensboro for the lead. Ryan Dorner was five-under par through the first 13 holes, but bogeyed his final four holes and settled for a one-under 71. He shared eighth place at 288 and earned First Team All-America recognition. Dex Reese's three-under 69 was the Titans' low score Friday, which vaulted him into ninth individually and earned Second Team All-America honors.
Greensboro's USA South Athletic Conference rival Methodist University jumped into second place in Thursday's third round and started Friday three shots behind the Pride in second place. The Monarchs shot 300 Friday, their highest round of the tournament, and finished in a third-place tie with Saint John's (Minn.) University and Texas Lutheran at 1180.
Tournament co-host Guilford College shot 299 Friday to finish ninth at 1191. Sophomore Noah Ratner shot 75 Friday and finished in 11th place at 292. He was a First Team All-America honoree.
Guilford hosted this year's national championship along with the Greensboro Sports Commission. The teams used Grandover's East course and West course for the first 36 holes, and played the final 36 holes on the East course. The Division III Men's Golf Championships move to the Mission Inn Resort & Club in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla., in 2012.