The Barry University-Nova Southeastern men’s golf rivalry is heating up, and the end result could be an NCAA Division II national championship for one of these programs next month in Kissimmee.
Florida schools are positioned one through five in the national rankings. In order, it’s West Florida, Lynn, Barry, Florida Southern and NSU.
Earlier this month, though, Barry and NSU served notice that they plan to contend for first place.
Barry won the “Battle at the Shores” tournament on their home course, Normandy Shores. NSU finished second, eight shots back. Lynn was fifth and Florida Southern was eighth. West Florida was not entered.
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In addition, Barry’s Niclas Weiland, a sophomore from Sweden, won the individual title with a 7-under-par 206 in the 54-hole tournament.
“My putting was the difference,” Weiland said. “I had been struggling the past month or so, but I felt really good this week. I didn’t miss inside six feet.”
NSU sophomore Juan Jose Guerra finished second by one stroke. Guerra, who is from the Dominican Republic, shot a career-best 11-under 60 in his middle round, breaking the course record at Normandy Shores. He made nine birdies and one eagle.
Christopher Carlin, a former Barry golfer, was an assistant coach at his alma mater in 2013 and 2014 when the Bucs won two consecutive national titles.
Now he is NSU’s coach.
“The rivalry is intense,” Weiland said of the Barry-NSU matchup. “Our former assistant coach at the helm of their program has made it a little more interesting for us. It’s a little weird seeing [Carlin] in Nova clothing.”
Weiland said Guerra’s performance was “unbelievable,” and he also praised Richard Mansell, an NSU senior who finished tied for fifth last week.
Mansell, a native of Staffordshire, England, was recently selected to play in the Arnold Palmer Cup, which will be held June 9-11 in Atlanta. That tournament matches 10 of the best U.S. collegiate golfers against 10 of the best from Europe.
Out of the 20 total golfers selected, only Mansell and Florida Southern’s John Coultas are from NCAA Division II.
Mansell, just the second NSU golfer to get picked for the Palmer Cup, following Ben Taylor’s selection in 2013, is the fifth-ranked golfer in Division II.
Carlin said Mansell’s mental ability is what makes him so good.
“He’s one of most driven people I’ve ever been around,” Carlin said.
No men’s golfer from a Miami-Dade or Broward university has ever won an individual NCAA Division II national title. Not even Adam Svensson, the Barry star who led the Bucs to the titles in 2013 and 2014, was able to win an individual championship.
Perhaps Weiland, Guerra, Mansell or some other Barry or NSU golfer can end that drought.
As for the team competition, the conference tournament is set for April 23-25 in Melbourne, the regional is May 8-10 in Alabama and the NCAA finals are May 22-26 in Kissimmee.
Carlin said West Florida and Lynn had “separated themselves” earlier this year, but Weiland said Barry’s tournament win changes everything.
“I’m confident we have the team that could beat anyone in the country,” he said. “This shows we’re headed in the right direction.”