The Barry University men’s golf team unquestionably has had a strong season. After all, you aren’t ranked No. 3 in the nation in Division II by hooking and slicing shots all over the golf course.
But for Barry’s players there was something missing — the Buccaneers had not been able to win a tournament despite coming close on several occasions.
On Tuesday, Barry ended that void, winning its own tournament — dubbed The Battle at the Shores — by 12 strokes at Normandy Shores Golf Club on Miami Beach.
“We were the only team ranked in the nation’s top 12 that hadn’t won a tournament,” Barry coach Jimmy Stobs said. “The players were frustrated, I was frustrated. We could not get over that threshold of winning, but now we have. After this tournament, I told them how proud I was of them.”
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The Battle at the Shores was Barry’s last chance to get a victory in the regular season, and the Bucs did it in fine fashion, totaling 845 strokes to beat second-place Nova Southeastern by 12 shots and third-place Florida Tech by 19 strokes. Next up for Barry is the Sunshine State Conference championship in two weeks at Melbourne.
“You want to peak at the end of the season,” Stobs said, “so this was important. We know we’re capable of beating anybody in the country.”
Florida schools dominate the national Division II standings with Sunshine State schools holding the top-five positions. In order, they are No. 1 West Florida followed by Lynn, Barry, Nova Southeastern and Florida Southern.
Barry’s Niclas Weiland, a sophomore, captured Tuesday’s individual championship in dramatic fashion, making eagle on the final hole to edge Nova Southeastern’s Juan Jose Guerra, who shot a course-record 60 on Monday, by a stroke.
Starting the final of three rounds, Weiland trailed Guerra by a very substantial seven strokes. That got even worse when Weiland double bogeyed the second hole to fall nine back. Weiland refused to get despondent, although he admitted, “After No. 2, I was getting upset with myself.”
Asked if he still thought he had a chance of winning at that point, he said, “Not really.”
Weiland gave himself a mental boost, and gained two strokes back on Guerra, when he birdied No. 3 and Guerra bogeyed the hole.
“Getting that birdie was huge,” Weiland said.
Slowly and surely, Weiland whittled away at the lead and made a key decision.
“In my mind, I turned it into match play against J.J. [Guerra],” he said, “and I got my momentum back.
“I just concentrated on J.J. That narrowed the focus, and I wasn’t worried about everybody else.”
The end came on the final hole, a reachable par-5. After a “nice drive” Weiland hit a 200-yard 6-iron to three feet of the pin and made the eagle putt for a 5-under-par 66.
Stobs summed up Weiland’s huge come-from-behind performance on Tuesday in addition to his play all season by saying, “He’s a big-time player.”
Lynn University freshman Tomas “Toto” Gana, 19, will be teeing it up in the Masters this week.
Gana gained a berth in the tournament when he won the Latino America Championship in January.
“Every golfer wants to play in the Masters,” Gana said. “The surroundings are so good.”