Emory, Rhodes win Golfweek Division III Fall Invitational titles

Emory, Rhodes win Golfweek Division III Fall Invitational titles

College

Emory, Rhodes win Golfweek Division III Fall Invitational titles

MIRAMAR BEACH, Fla. – The Golfweek Division III Fall Invitational might take place seven months before the NCAA Division III Championship. But for those teams participating this week at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, the fall event is one of the best barometers of the season.

“Any team here that finishes in the top 5 or 6 that shoots a good number, they’re going to have a chance to win it all this spring,” said Rhodes women’s coach Mike Clary.

Clary’s Lynx squad arrived at Sandestin ranked No. 6 in the WGCA Coaches Poll. But after 54 holes around the difficult Baytowne Golf Course, Rhodes proved itself the best in an 18-team field that featured 11 of the top 25 teams in the country.

Rhodes, which had never finished better than third at Sandestin, shot 15-over 303 in Tuesday’s final round to finish at 56 over and post an 18-shot victory over Carnegie Mellon. The Lynx have won three of the past five NCAA team titles and have already posted two tournament wins this season.

This year’s NCAA Division III Women’s Championship will be held May 14-17 at Bay Oaks Country Club in Houston, Texas. Sandestin’s Baytowne is widely considered a much tougher course, too.

“We’re back in the mix,” said Clary, whose team missed the NCAA tournament last spring. “That doesn’t mean I think we’re going to win it, but we’re a team that has an opportunity to win it – which again, I think there are 7-10 teams who can win it this year.”

Rhodes sophomore Tabitha Diehl picked up the individual medal by capping a 7-over 223 with a final-round, even-par 72. She beat Christopher Newport’s Erica Whitehouse and Washington-St. Louis’ Samantha Haubenstock by two shots despite making a double bogey on her final hole.

Senior Emily Salamy tied for eighth and sophomore Annie Paris shared 10th for the Lynx.

Washington-St. Louis, the defending champions, finished third at 75 over despite playing with four players in the final two rounds. Emily Carnes withdrew after the first round because of a death in her family.

On the men’s side, Emory further established itself as the top team in Division III men’s golf with a nine-shot victory on the Raven Golf Course. The Eagles shot 6-under 278 Tuesday to complete the wire-to-wire victory, finishing at 10 under.

Four players finished in the top 12 for Emory – Logan Ryan (fourth, 5 under), Matt Organisak (T-7, 3 under), Eric Yiu (T-12, even par) and Connor Yakubov (T-12, even par).

The victory is Emory’s third of the fall. The Eagles won the Tartan Invitational last time out and also opened the fall with a win at the NCAA Division III Fall Preview at Keene Trace in Lexington, Ky.

Sjoberg wasn’t on hand for the first win of the fall, yielding coaching duties to assistant Keenan Hickton as he stayed back in Atlanta to be with his wife, who was expecting their second child.

“Everybody we talked to said you’re crazy if you’re seven hours from home three days before the baby’s due,” Sjoberg said. “It was the right decision.”

Sjoberg spent the two tournament days back in his office, constantly hitting refresh on Golfstat. Two days after the Eagles’ season-opening win, Charlie Sjoberg was born.

Emory’s head coach doesn’t plan on missing any more tournaments this season. He has a special team on his hands. Emory has never won an NCAA Division III men’s team title, though it does claim an NCAA Division III individual champion (Lee Palms, 1991). It has also never finished better than fourth at nationals.

The Eagles, now winners of the two toughest events of the fall, are expecting to change that this spring. The NCAA Division III Men’s Championship will take place May 14-17 at Grandover Resort in Greensboro, N.C.

“This is a big pretty big step,” Emory coach John Sjoberg said. “We’ve played great this fall, but we haven’t really won anything yet. The whole goal is that second week in May. Until we get to that it’s just keep getting better, keep getting better.

“They’re certainly good enough (to win the NCAA title). Obviously, you need a lot of things to go right, but they’re certainly good enough.”

Huntingdon College finished second Tuesday at Sandestin, ending up at 1 under, followed by Southwestern in third at 4 over. Methodist’s Dan Shepherd won the individual title with a 7-under 206, two shots better than Huntingdon’s Stephen Shephard and Guilford’s James Mishoe.

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