South Florida landed a 1-2 punch in college Division II golf during the past two weeks.
Not once, but twice.
In the women’s NCAA Division II Championships, Lynn University of Boca Raton finished first and Barry University in Miami-Dade took second on the Rock Barn Golf & Spa course in Conover, N.C.
In the men’s Division II Championships, Barry University took first and Broward County rival Nova Southeastern finished second on the Meadows Golf Course in Allendale, Mich.
Both Lynn and Barry were repeating as national champs, with the Lynn women claiming five overall national championships and the Barry men landing their third national title.
The Lynn women were led by Louise Manalo, who won the national individual title. Nicky Ferre was the top finisher for Barry, coached by Shannon Sykora . Ferre finished in 16th place. Lynn was dominating, winning by 29 strokes.
“Florida is very strong in college golf talent, and particularly South Florida,” Barry coach Jimmy Stobs said.
The question that remains is how does Division II talent compare to Division I talent.
Certainly, Division II name recognition to the general public is lacking when it is compared to schools such as Alabama, LSU, Stanford and Oklahoma State — dominant in golf, but also many other sports, including football.
Nevertheless, Stobs thinks the gap in talent is far less than the gap in name recognition.
Stobs has always said he would like to take on a brand-name Division I team.
In addition, Stobs thinks his best player, Adam Svensson , can hold his own against any of the top players in the country, regardless of division.
Svensson was ranked as the top Division II player all season, winning a school-record seven individual tournament titles. No Division I player accomplished that feat.
“No doubt he’s had the best season of any Barry golfer ever,” Stobs said. “He’s certainly the best of any Division II golfer. He’s the best of any college golfer. There’s no doubt about it. He’s the best college golfer in the nation.
Of course, at this time, the big question for Stobs and Barry isn’t how good Svensson is. It’s whether he will be playing for Barry next season.
Svensson, a sophomore from Surrey, British Columbia, in Canada, will play various tournaments this summer and then decide whether to leave school and make the jump to the professional level.
“At this point, we just don’t know what will happen with Adam,” Stobs said.
Of course, Svensson received plenty of help from his teammates — Berry Joel, Scott Smyers, Jared Dalga and Mario Beltran — this season, and particularly in the national championship match against Nova, when, for one of the few times this season, Svensson played less than his usual dominating self and lost to Nova’s Ricardo Celia.
THAT’S A FACT, JACK
This one was no gimmee. Bob Cook holds the record for the longest putt in tournament history, holing a putt of 140-feet 2 ¾ inches at St. Andrew’s in 1976 during a Four-Ball event.