College Golf

Limestone advances to the NCAA DII Championship

The Limestone Saints ran away from the field to record a ten-shot victory over #1 ranked Barry College and the rest of the teams in the always competitive NCAA DII South-Southeast Regional played at the Kinderlou Forest Golf Club in Valdosta, Ga. While five other teams advanced to the National Championship in a few weeks, the Saints brought the trophy back to Gaffney. (Limestone Photo)

You know you’ve had a good tournament and a really good day when you receive the winner’s trophy before all the other golfers are off the course.

Limestone University won the always difficult South/South East NCAA DII Regional in Valdosta, GA. by 10 shots over Barry College, the number one ranked team in the country and a field which included seven of the top-ten nationally ranked DII teams.

Meaning no disrespect to the other competitors and hoping to help Limestone shave a few hours off a busy travel schedule, the trophy and the ticket to the NCAA DII finals were presented to the Saints while teams finished a playoff.

“We really appreciate them helping us,” said Limestone coach Trey Taylor. “We have been on the road a lot this last week,” he said.

Limestone’s men’s team joined the women’s team as both squads now have advanced to NCAA DII National Championships.

Taylor coaches both teams. After the women tied for the top spot at the South Regional in Davie, Florida, the Limestone coach drove to Valdosta in time for the men’s practice round the next day.

After winning the Regional in Valdosta, Taylor and the men drove back to Gaffney, Saturday night, to pick up some fresh clothes and refuel the van.

Limestone senior Levi Moody got the Saint’s off to a good start with an opening round of 4-under par 68. (Limestone file photo)

“The guys get out and the women get in. We leave Sunday for the women’s championship in Gainesville, Ga., so we don’t have much time to celebrate Mother’s Day and have about a four-hour drive in front of us. It is a nice problem to have.

The women’s team had been ranked in the top-five all year, but the men ended the regular season ranked tenth after finishing fourth in the South Atlantic Conference tournament almost a month ago.

With seven teams in the field ranked ahead of Limestone, the Saints were facing some strong competition to win one of the six qualifying spots for the national championship, let alone win the Region title.

“We got off to a good start the first day. The golf course (Kinderlou Forest Golf Club) is one that if you can play well on the front nine it can set you up for a good score,” he said.

The Saints shot a 281 total in the first round to trail co leaders West Georgia and Delta State by five-shots with top ranked Barry between Limestone and the lead.

Saints’ senior Levi Moody finished the first day in the top-five after shooting a 4-under par 68.

Weather problems meant the second round could not be completed as scheduled so some teams had to finish their second round before playing the final round.

When all the second round scores were in, Barry held a three-shot lead over the Saints, but it didn’t last very long.

The Saints jumped into the lead in large part due to the play of Pontus Samuelsson.

Pontus Samuelsson birdied five of his first seven holes in the final round to help the Saints take the lead. (Limestone file photo)

Samuelsson won the South Atlantic Conference individual championship at the end of the regular season and started his final round with five-birdies in his first seven holes.

“He was playing just like he was when he won the conference. When he gets going he isn’t afraid to take it deep. We call him the machine,” said his coach.

With Samuelsson leading the way, the Saints made the turn at 6-under par while Barry struggled and was 2-over par on their first nine holes.

The lead got bigger on the back and by the time the Saints carded three-pars and a birdie from Kristoffer Larsson on the fourteenth hole, the Limestone coach thought they would be hard to catch.

“Gage Carnes made a couple of birdies to keep the big lead. Some of our guys might have limped home, but we knew we were in control and had it won,” said Taylor.

Individually, Samuelsson was the top Saint tying for third at 6-under par.

The Saints got their trophy and picture and were on the road with a ten-shot victory and a ticket to the national championship in Detroit.

Just like the Saints women’s team advancing from the very difficult South Regional, where most of the very best teams in the country play, is an accomplishment worth celebrating, when the Saints get some time.

“We are going to be with the women at the National Championship and then when we get back it will be time to go to Detroit,” he said.

With Taylor and his assistant Brett Krekorian both at the women’s championship, the men will kind of be on their own.

“We know the conditions at the TPC Michigan are going to be very different than what we are used to. We are going to find the guys some places that have bent grass greens so they can get in a little practice on that kind of surface,” said Taylor.

The Saints join Barry and Lee as colleges with both the men’s and women’s teams advancing to the national championships from the highly competitive NCAA South Regionals.

This will be the Saints’ fourth trip to the NCAA DII National Championship. Limestone won the NAIA (predecessor to DII) National Championship in 1984.

NCAA DII South/ South East Regional scores https://results.golfstat.com//public/leaderboards/gsnav.cfm?pg=team&tid=25424

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