As the holes were running out for Wofford and UNC Wilmington at the Wofford Invitational both teams coaches were encouraging their players and checking the live scoring on their smart phones.
It was that close!
Wofford’s head coach Van Williams was watching his team cut deep into the 14 shot lead UNC Wilmington had built in the first two rounds at The Country Club of Spartanburg.
Seahawks coach Daniel Bowden was doing the same thing, but instead of trying to catch the leader he was motivating his team to hang on to their lead.
Both coaches efforts were successful.
Led by medalist Cedric Otten’s 6-under par 66, the Terriers shot a final round 10-under par 278 to finish in a first place tie.
UNC-Wilmington posted a 4-over par 292 to share the championship with the Terriers, but not before some 18th hole drama concluded regulation play.
Going to the final hole for the final two golfers the Seahawks held a 1-shot lead.
UNCW’s Patrick Sparks needed a par on his final hole to preserve at least a share of the tournament title for his team.
Sparks hit his second shot from between trees just off the fairway and came up short of the green. On his third shot he used the elevated back of the green like a backboard.
His pitch checked up on the slope and rolled back down past the pin leaving him an uphill 6-footer for par and the win for his team.
Otten, who landed his second shot 12 feet below the pin for possibly his 7th birdie of the round heard the applause from the crowd on 18.
“It was amazing. I heard them cheering, but I didn’t know how close it was until I got to the green,” said Otten. “I was pretty excited to make the putt and tie for the lead. It was very special,” he said.
The Terrier sophomore from Germany rolled his birdie putt into the center of the cup, putting the pressure back on Sparks.
The Seahawk junior from Lima, Peru, had no trouble with his putt, effectively ending the tournament in a tie between Wofford and UNCW.
Individually, Otten earned his first college tournament victory.
His final round score included just one bogey as he was able to make up the four strokes he trailed the leaders by and built a 3-shot lead by the 17th hole.
Otten’s part in helping the team win its first title in their own tournament was just as important as his individual victory..
“I’m very glad it worked out personally for me and the team,” said Otten.
The coaches decided they would play a sudden death playoff, basically for the trophy. UNCW won the playoff and got to take the trophy back to Wilmington.
It was the third tournament title of the spring for the Seahawks and the second time they finished on top of the Wofford tournament. The first time was in 2003.
“We led most of the tournament, but we had some trouble around the turn,” said Seahawks coach Daniel Bowden. “We did the same thing at our home tournament, but the team responded well and we went on to win just like here,” he said.
The Seahawks other win this spring was at the Forrest Creek Collegiate in Pinehurst.
“We love coming here to play. The greens are amazing and you get kind of an Augusta feel out on the course. Plus it is close to home, and that makes this special,” said the UNCW coach,
Bowden won an individual high school title while playing for Easley and helped the Green Wave to a state championship in 2005 before going on to play college golf at Georgia Tech and Furman.
UNCW won the trophy, but when it comes to recognition for the win the Golfstat ranking service will show the tournament ended in a tie, giving each team credit for the victory.
“In Golfstat (www.golfstat.com) it goes down as a win,” said Williams. “I’m so proud of our guys. We have been knocking on the door all spring. I couldn’t be happier even if it is shared,” added the Terrier coach.
The win is the first time the Terriers have finished on top of the tournament they have hosted since 1988.
The victory marked the continued improvement of the team since the calendar flipped to 2022.
“In the fall we went on qualifying results. We had four different lineups in five tournaments. We wanted to see how you perform when the lights are on. This five has got some chemistry going and now we will see how well we can do in the Southern Conference tournament,” said Williams.
The Terrier’s Henry Jones shot a 2-under par final round 70 to finish tied for 11th with teammate Mathew Larkin. Jackson Hill pitched in with a 3-under par 69 to tie for 21st while Walker Jones had all three of his rounds count towards the Terrier’s team score.
Mercers’ Tobias Jonsson finished second at 7-under par.Appalachian State’s Lukas Jonsson tied with Sparks for third.
Both teams completed their regular seasons schedules and now prepare for conference tournaments.
UNCW will play in the CAA tournament at the Dataw Island Club starting on April 24th while the Terriers will begin play in the SoCon tournament on April 22nd at Reynolds Plantation in Greensboro, Georgia.
Wofford Invitational scores https://results.golfstat.com//public/leaderboards/gsnav.cfm?pg=team&tid=25258