Nova Southeastern came into this year’s Division II golf season ranked as the No. 1 men’s team in the nation, a fitting position to bestow on the defending national champions.
However, the Sharks needed every part of the regular season to nab their first tournament victory.
They did that Tuesday as they captured the three-round Buccaneer Invitational hosted by Barry University at Normandy Shores Golf Club on Miami Beach.
With his team currently ranked No. 5 in the nation, Nova coach Ryan Jamison said, “This was a great victory for us. We struggled the first day and we managed to fight back.”
Jamison is not too worried about either the rankings or winning several tournaments.
He explained that his team has been using various lineups as front-line players have been absent to compete for their national teams and other events.
What is the biggest asset Jamison thinks he has on his side?
“We have five players back with national title experience, and that’s huge,” he said. “There’s been somewhat of a target on our back this year, but that’s OK.”
Next up for Nova Southeastern is the Sunshine State Conference Championship beginning April 17 at Crandon Golf Course on Key Biscayne.
Can Nova repeat as national champs?
“That’s the goal,” Jamison said. “We’ve talked about it, but our main concentration is on just getting better every day. If we do that, things will take care of themselves.”
Nova was led by Hunter O’Mahony and Priyanshu Singh, both with minus-3 totals of 210 as part of a four-way tie for third. The Sharks finished at 6-under 846 for the tournament and defeated Boca Raton’s Lynn University by four shots.
The individual winner was Lynn’s Mateo Gomez, who finished at minus-5 with rounds of 65, 70 and 73. Brendan Hunter of St. Thomas Aquinas College in New York finished one stroke back with rounds of 69, 70 and 70.
Gomez said Tuesday’s final round was more difficult than the first two days.
“The conditions were completely different,” he said. “It became very windy.”
Then Gomez, a junior, added, “I tried to play safe and I also made a couple of mistakes that cost me with bogeys.”
Gomez, who has been medalist in three tournaments this year, is majoring in sports management and has not settled on his future.
“I will finish college,” he said, “and then possibly go for a Master’s degree. With golf, I will see how I am playing and decide whether or not to turn pro.”
Host Barry, the nation’s No. 7-ranked team, was led by Kyle Brey with rounds of 68, 72 and 73. The Bucs finished in a tie for seventh.
The field featured six Top 25 teams in Division II and four others receiving votes.