Schools from the state of North Carolina dominated the NCAA Division III Men’s Championship.
Guilford College of Greensboro, N.C., shot a final-round 300 to overtake third-round leader Methodist College and capture its first national title May 16 at the Firethorn Golf Club. Methodist, the Fayetteville, N.C., school that has won nine national titles, held a two-shot lead but slipped to third place behind Guilford and Greensboro (N.C.) College.
Guilford finished the tournament at 76-over-par 1,212. Greensboro shot a tournament-low 4-over 288 to move from seventh place to second, six shots behind Guilford.
“If you look at a lot of the team scores from today (Friday), you’ll see that most of them were really high,” said Guilford coach Jack Jensen. “The wind was blowing 20-25 mph at times. Our score was terrific. Greensboro’s was unreal.”
Guilford finished second to Wisconsin-Eau Claire by one shot in the 2001 finals after holding a one-shot lead through three rounds last year.
“These top four guys all had the same feelings headed into the final round last year and were right there,” Jensen said. “That made the difference.”
Guilford was led by Dave Patterson who finished second with an 11-over 295. Andrew Biggadike was sixth at 299; Savio Nazareth was 18th at 306; Andrew Eversole shot 324 to finish 82nd and John Riddle was 83rd at 326.
The national title was Jensen’s third as a coach, but first at the Division III level. Jensen led Guilford to the NAIA titles in golf in 1989 and men’s basketball in 1973. Guilford joined NCAA Division III in 1991-92 and has qualified for the finals in 10 of 11 years.
Sophomore Chris Noll from Wesley College in Dover, Del., won the individual title with a 9-over 293.
“I hit the ball well,” said Noll, Wesley’s first national champion in golf. “I knew I could win but didn’t know the scores were going to be this high.”
Noll transferred to Wesley after a month at Division II Florida Southern College last semester.
Methodist was trying to win the national championship at the course where it won the title in 1991.
“They are crushed. That’s the goal – to win,” said Methodist coach Steve Conley. “That is what we compete for, and when you get that close and get that taste and don’t get what you want, it hurts and it should hurt.”
Conley said his team’s lack of experience played a factor.
“With five rookies who have never been in the national championship before, I’ve got to tell you to finish third I’ve got to be proud of them.”