BOCA RATON, Fla. – The Nova Southeastern University men’s and women’s golf teams continued to define why they are two of the best golf programs in Division II on Tuesday afternoon by claiming both the men’s and women’s Sunshine State Conference titles at the Boca Country Club.
Nova Southeastern is just the third institution in SSC history to lay claim to both the men’s and women’s title in the same year and the first since 2003. Florida Southern was the first to win the men’s and women’s titles in the same year in 1999, while Rollins was the last to win both in 2003.
“This just shows where both our golf programs are on a national level,” head coach Kevin Marsh said. “We pride ourselves as being the best as we can be and this was the first step in the post season process for both teams. It is a great feeling to coach both teams that win because they both push each other throughout the year. It was just great to watch them both win at the same time.”
Down by six strokes after the opening round on Monday, the top-ranked NSU women came back with a 297 in round two and tied with Florida Southern heading into the final round with a two-round 597. Battling tough course conditions, the Sharks carded a 308 in the final round for a three-round total of 905 (+20) to win the 2011 SSC Title by four strokes over Florida Southern.
It was the women’s second consecutive conference title and third overall in school history. The Sharks won their first title in 2008 followed by back-to-back titles in 2010 and 2011. NSU’s Sandra Changkija (Sr., Orlando, Fla.) captured the individual title with a three-round four-over par 220 (72, 72, 76).
“It was a battle all three rounds. Florida Southern has a great team, but we knew we had to go out and play hard to win it.” Marsh said. “Every player made a contribution to win this. However, Sandra and Taylor (Collins, Sr., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) both made significant contributions today with both hitting birdie on 18 to finish out the tournament. That was great way to see our top two seniors go out in their last SSC Tournament.”
Coming into Tuesday’s final round, the No. 14 NSU men held a one-stroke advantage over SSC rival No. 7 Barry with a two-round 577 (+1). The Sharks got off to a slow start in the second round and were down by eight strokes through the first nine. However, on the back nine, the Sharks began making up ground and narrowed the gap to five strokes after 12 holes. Finally, freshman Ricardo Celia (Barranquilla, Columbia) clinched the Sharks’ championship by draining a 15-foot birdie putt on 18. The Sharks defeated Barry by one stroke with a three-round 873 (+9).
Celia finished tied for first with a three-round one-under 215 (72-67-76) with Barry’s Daniel Stapff to force a playoff for the individual title. After a first-hole playoff tie, Stapff drained an eagle putt on the second hole to claim the individual title. NSU claims their fourth Sunshine State Conference title and first since 2009. The Sharks won the SSC golf championship in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011.
“On the guys’ side, we felt that we needed to just be in the mix after 36 holes, and we were up by one stroke heading into the final round,” Marsh said. “Down by eight strokes at one point, I knew it was going to be won on the back nine. Garrett and I both kept telling the guys to keep grinding and stay focused on each hole and that’s what they did. Ricardo’s 15-footer on 18 for birdie finally clinched the title for us, but it was unfortunate his birdie on the second playoff hole lost to an eagle putt for the individual title.”
Winning the SSC title automatically qualifies both teams for the NCAA South Regional tournament. The NSU men will travel Deland, Fla. for the NCAA South/South Central Super Regional hosted at the Victoria Hills Country Club May 2-4, while the women will head to Lakeland for the South Regional hosted at the Club of Eaglebrooke May 1-3.
For more information, please visit www.nsusharks.com/news/2011/4/19/MGOLF_0419112117.aspx.