Railsplitters lose to Lynn in national championship match

Published 3:51 pm Friday, May 24, 2019

DANIELS, W.V. — Lincoln Memorial fell just short in its pursuit of the first national title in program history on Friday at The Resort at Glade Springs, suffering a hard-fought 3-2 loss to Lynn in the finals of the 2019 Division II Men’s Golf Championship.

The Railsplitters won the first two points of the match, but Lynn captured the next three to claim back-to-back national titles. The loss brings the historic 2019 season to a close for Lincoln Memorial, which knocked off No. 1 nationally-ranked Barry in the national quarterfinals to become the first men’s golf program in South Atlantic Conference history to advance to match play.

The Railsplitters then took down No. 4 Florida Southern to become only the third program in the history of the LMU athletics department to advance to the national championship.

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“It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions,” 16th-year LMU head coach Travis Muncy said. “It’s been a great week and there’s no reason for these guys not to hold their head high and be proud of what we’ve done. We beat the No. 1 and No. 4 team in the country to get here.

“We fell a little short today,” he continued. “We just didn’t get any momentum. It wasn’t like we lost, we just got beat. We just didn’t get any momentum in a few matches. It’s one of those things where you wish things could have turned out different, but be proud of the situation.”

The Railsplitters had the momentum early as Dan Bradbury again led them out front with a win as the sophomore took down his second first-team All-American of match play with a one-shot win over Tomas Gana. Bradbury posted a four-under par 68 to edge Gana, who rallied all the way back from a four-shot deficit with three straight birdies at holes 15, 16 and 17. However, Bradbury birdied the 18th to hold on for the victory.

Sam Broadhurst then gave the Railsplitters a 2-0 lead when he closed out Agustin Errazuriz with a three-shot victory. That match was tied through 10 holes, but Broadhurst took the lead for good with a par at the 11th hole. A birdie at the 17th and a par at the 18th extended the final margin to three as Broadhurst closed out his illustrious college career with a one-under par 71.

The two-time All-American, four-time All-South Atlantic Conference first team selection and National Player of the Year finalist finishes his LMU career as the program’s all-time leader in career scoring average. In his four-year tenure, the Railsplitters made four South/Southeast Regional appearances and two trips to the national quarterfinals, which stand as the deepest postseason runs in program history.

“He’s helped us to get it where it’s at today,” Muncy said of his only senior. “The program has evolved so much in the last four years and it’s in a good place. We had our little team meeting after we lost, and he feels like he’s leaving the team in a good place.”

Despite holding a 2-0 lead through the first two matches, the Railsplitters were unable to get a win at the back of the pack as Luke Harries suffered a five-shot loss to Carlos Bustos, Harry Boyle battled tough in a five-shot loss to Giovanni Manzoni and Jorge Villar closed out Lynn’s second straight national title with a seven-shot win over Hamish McColm.

Both Harries and Boyle had their chances. Harries went into the 11th hole trailing by only one shot, but double bogeyed back-to-back holes to fall five shots off the pace. Boyle, meanwhile, dwindled the deficit down to as little as two going into the 13th hole, but Manzoni birdied the 13th and 14th holes to push it back to four. After the loss, Muncy chose not to focus on it. He instead focused a special season from a special group.

“It’s an amazing group of guys,” he said. “Probably the best team I’ve ever coached since I’ve been coaching. The most talented, tight-knit group of guys. They’re an amazing group of guys. They are entertaining on and off the golf course. We played really good at times and we played really bad at times, but we did it together. Today, we fell just a little short. Through the whole season, I wouldn’t change anything.”

As the program continues to evolve and reach new heights, Muncy thinks this experience will continue to fuel the Railsplitters, who return four of the five players that competed in this year’s national championship for the 2019-20 season, in their pursuit of the ultimate prize in Division II golf.

“Last year, we made it to the match play and lost in the first round and the guys got a taste of it,” he said. “Now they have a true taste of it and they know that they can obtain a national championship. I think they will be back better and stronger next year.”