Ratner Rallies To Advance at NCAA Division III Championships

Noah Ratner
Noah Ratner

DESTIN, Fla. – Guilford College shot 305 in Wednesday's second round of the NCAA Division III Golf Championships at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. The Quakers' two-day score of 612 placed 17th in the 41-team field and missed the 15-team cut line by six strokes. The remaining 15 squads will play 36 holes for the national title over the next two days on the par-71, 6,854 The Raven Course.

Transylvania University and the University of Texas-Tyler share first place with matching 36-hole scores of 579. First-round leader Methodist University shot 295 Wednesday on The Raven Course and is six strokes off the lead at 585. Illinois Wesleyan University (294-295-589) and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges (299-296-595) round out the top five. Top-ranked and defending national champion Oglethorpe University shot 310-307-617 and did not make the cut, which claimed four clubs ranked among the top 10 in the latest Golfstat.com Head-to-Head Ratings. Guilford is ranked seventh in the ratings.

Guilford senior Noah Ratner won a thrilling five-man playoff to secure the last of six individual spots reserved for low-scoring students of non-advancing teams. Ratner, a two-time First Team PING All-American, drained a 20-foot, sloping putt over a ridge for a birdie on 18, which gave him a team-best round of 74. His 150 total shares 39th place in the 210-man field with a group of students that included Whitworth College's Stephen Plopper, Skidmore College's Garrett Colgan, Milwaukee School of Engineering's Miguel Diaz Garcia and Redlands College's John McCord.

Plopper, who completed his second round early in the day, left the course and did not return for the playoff, which left four students competing for the final position in the 81-man individual field. They headed to the par-four 18th hole of The Raven Course, where Guilford and 19 other teams competed Wednesday. (The remaining squads played the par-72, 6,636-yard The Links Course, which Guilford and the others played Tuesday.)

Ratner hit the fairway off the tee, made it onto the green and two-putted for par, as did Colgan. Diaz Garcia and McCord could not keep pace and were eliminated after the first playoff hole. The Guilford senior and Skidmore senior returned to 18 and again both students made it to the green in two shots. Colgan's birdie out lipped out and he tapped in for par. Ratner two-putted from eight feet away and the pair headed back to the 18th tee for one more hole in the fading daylight.

Hitting first, Colgan did not hit his tee shot full and his ball landed in the water to the right of the fairway. Ratner put his first shot in the fairway and his second onto the green. Colgan took a one-stroke penalty, teed off again and reached the green in four shots. Ratner two-putted for par, which clinched the 81st and final position.

Ratner's dramatic finish highlighted an otherwise disappointing day for the Quakers. Despite ideal playing conditions and two evenly matched courses, Guilford shot 21-over par for 36 holes. The Quakers started Wednesday's round in 15th place and made the turn tied for 13th. However, the team shot a combined nine-over par over the final four holes and missed the cut for the first time since the NCAA started trimming the field after 36 holes.

Guilford sophomore Travis Tolbert shot 75-78-153 and placed 64th among individuals. Classmate Drew Thompson fired a 76 Wednesday to finish with a two-round 154 in 69th place. Sophomore Nick Shedd (78-81-159) shared 113th place and junior Dallas Page (84-77-161) was tied for 125th.

Ratner resumes his quest for All-America honors Thursday morning in the day's first group, which is scheduled to tee off at 8:20 a.m. The tournament concludes Friday. The third and fourth rounds will be played on The Raven Course.

Guilford and the Greensboro Sports Commission will co-host the 2014 and 2015 NCAA Division III Men's Golf Championships at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro.