Golf spotlight

Barry wins regional tournament, set to defend title

 

Special to the Miami Herald

Barry University moved one step closer to repeating as Division II national golf champion Wednesday when the Bucs, starting the day two strokes behind, impressively won the South/Southeast Super Regional by six shots on the Savannah Quarters Country Club course in Pooler, Georgia.

The victory advances Barry to the national championship May 19-23 in Allendale, Michigan, on The Meadows Golf Course.

“So far, it has been a good year,” Barry coach Jimmy Stobs said in what amounts to an understatement. “We still have the big one left, but we’re on track.”

One good omen for Barry is that the site of the national championship is the same as where the Bucs won their first national title in 2007.

Was Stobs concerned when his team trailed going into Wednesday’s final round of the Super Regional?

Not really.

Stobs, a steady type, does not get too high or too low during the ebb and flow of tournaments.

“We knew it was a three-round tournament,” Stobs said. “I know my players are capable of stepping up. They have done it all year, and all of them came through again.”

Stobs, as usual, talked to his team before Wednesday’s final round.

“We talked about controlling emotions and sticking to the game plan and not taking shots that we’re not capable of making,” he said. “The course has holes that yield good scores, but there are four or five holes that can be big trouble.”

An old rival and old friend will join Barry at nationals. Nova Southeastern, led by Santiago Gomez with a 1-over-par 73 and three-round total 212 to finish third individually, was one of seven teams to advance.

“Nova is a great rivalry for us,” Stobs said. “A good team with good players and good competition. They will be there at the end, I’m sure.”

Barry, ranked as the No. 1 Division II team in the nation, was led — as it usually is — by Adam Svensson, the nation’s top-ranked player. Svensson shot 70-70-73-213 in the tournament to finish in a tie for seventh.

Scott Smyers, who had the tournament’s lowest round of 66 on the first day, added a 14th-place finish with a 216 total. Mario Beltran was tied for 23rd at 224. Berry Jole tied for 41st. Barry finished with a team total of 868, six strokes ahead of second-place Nova.

Seven teams advance to nationals and that includes Lynn University of Boca Raton, finishing in fifth place. Florida Southern’s Tim Crouch won Wednesday’s individual title with a final-round 71 and 210 total.

Wednesday’s Super Regional was a big hurdle for Barry since 18 of the top 25 teams in the nation come from Florida.

“It’s the strongest field of the year,” Stobs said.

After Super Regional play throughout the nation, 20 teams advance to the nationals. They will compete in three days of stroke play with the field being cut to eight teams and the format then switching to match play.

Of his team’s seven tournament wins this season, Stobs said, “It has certainly been an outstanding season, but our main goal is to win nationals.

“Everything is out there in front of us, but we have to go out there and get it. They won’t just hand it to us.”

With the Super Regional victory, the Buccaneers earned themselves a couple of days off.

“We’ll get back to it on Saturday,” Stobs said, “then we will prepare mentally and physically for nationals.

“Believe me, we will be hitting a lot of balls.”

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