Railsplitters’ historic run concludes in national quarterfinals

Published 3:34 pm Sunday, May 27, 2018

MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. — The Railsplitters’ magical run to the quarterfinals of the 2018 NCAA Division II Men’s Golf Championship ended on Thursday morning with a 4-0-1 match play loss to No. 2 nationally-ranked Florida Southern at the Robert Trent Jones at the Shoals’ Fighting Joe Course.

Lincoln Memorial – seeded eighth after finishing the 54-holes of stroke play qualifying – had a tall task in Thursday’s morning match, as Florida Southern, winners of an NCAA Division II record 13 national championships, were seeded first overall after posting a remarkable 24-under par total in qualifying.

The Moccasins had three players finish in the top 20 of the standings, including the runaway national champ.

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Looking to slay the dragons of Division II men’s golf, Lincoln Memorial gave the Moccasins a run for their money despite the lopsided final score, as three of the five matches were decided by three strokes or fewer.

In match No. 1, Harry Boyle had a day to forget and was beaten handedly by John Coultas to give Florida Southern a 1-0 lead out of the gate. In the second match, Garrett Tucker led throughout most of the front nine and had a putt on the 18th hole to split the match, but missed it to give Florida Southern a one-stroke win and a 2-0 lead.

The Mocs officially clinched the match in the third flight with Jacob Penny’s nine-stroke win over Brady Davis.

After falling behind by four strokes after three holes, Sam Broadhurst battled back to draw his match against Michael VanDerLaan even by the 11th hole. The junior All-Southeast Region selection then fell behind by one at the 14th hole, but birdied the par-three 18th hole to earn a split.

In the fifth and final flight, freshman Dan Bradbury drew individual national champion John VanDerLaan, who finished an otherworldly 17-under par in the stroke play competition. Bradbury gave VanDerLaan a bit of a scare and led by one after five holes before eventually succumbing by a narrow three-stroke margin.

The loss marks the end of far and away the most successful season in the storied history of the LMU men’s golf program. The Railsplitters earned their first-ever bid to the national championship with a landmark fifth-place finish at the loaded South/Southeast Regional, which featured 16 of the nation’s top 25 teams.

That result was made all the more satisfying in the wake of a disappointing eighth-place finish at the South Atlantic Conference Championship.

Lincoln Memorial, which played its way into match play at the national championship by firing back-to-back under-par rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday, was only the third men’s golf program in SAC history to make the national championship field and the second to accomplish that feat this century.