In less than two weeks, Barry University has won two Division II national titles.
On Friday in Hershey, Pa., it was the men’s golf team’s turn to be crowned as it beat Lynn in a match-play tiebreaker despite 30 mph winds on a chilly, 50-degree day. The five matches finished tied 2-2-1, but Barry was four strokes better overall.
Barry’s men’s tennis team won its national championship on May 11, giving the Bucs two titles in the same school year for the first time in school history. Overall, Barry has won 11 national titles.
“This is awesome,” said coach Jimmy Stobs, who also directed Barry’s other golf championship in 2007. “I push our guys really hard, and sometimes they don’t understand why.
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“I don’t ever let them give up or do things halfway. I think now they realize that I do that for moments like this. If you haven’t practiced well, you won’t be able to handle the pressure.”
There was considerable pressure the past two days. Barry knocked off Nova in another tiebreaker in Thursday’s semifinal. Senior Simon Forsslund was one of the heroes, rallying from five strokes down on the last nine holes to get a crucial tie.
Against Lynn, Forsslund was huge again, winning by eight strokes. The size of his victory was what enabled Barry to win the tiebreaker.
Forsslund was one of three main stars for Barry on Friday. Senior Marcus Segerstrom, who got beat against Nova, redeemed himself by getting a draw against Lynn. And National Freshman of the Year Adam Svensson was the only Barry player to earn wins in the semifinal and final.
“Adam is one of the biggest talents I’ve ever played with,” Segerstrom said.
Svensson was the last Barry player to complete his match. He parred the 17th to take a one-stroke lead into the final hole. If he drew or lost his match, Barry would have fallen short of the national championship.
That was intense pressure for the 19-year-old, who had told Stobs he had “nothing to worry about.”
Even so, Svensson admitted later he was indeed nervous as he began play on the 460-yard, par-4 hole.
Svensson said the key was his second shot, which was a 5-iron from 194 yards.
“It was into the wind, left to right,” Svensson said.
Svensson executed beautifully, landing his ball just 20 feet from the flag. His opponent, Roberto Francioni, came up short of the green and bogeyed the hole. Svensson’s first putt landed within inches of the hole, and after he tapped in for the win, he raced over to hug Stobs.
“I felt like a rush, a high,” Svensson said. “When I went to hug Jimmy, he was crying.”
After Francioni finished his round, the Barry players – who had displayed sportsmanship by waiting until the match was officially over before starting the party – sprinted to celebrate with their coach and Svensson.
“We were all standing there, our hearts racing,” Segerstrom said of that moment right before they celebrated. “I just wanted to run down there and scream.”
Segerstrom hinted that the real celebrating would happen Friday night.
“I don’t know how the NCAA feels about it,” he said. “So let’s just say, officially, that we are going to bed.”