BOWLING GREEN, Fla. (Lee Athletics) – The No. 8 Lee men’s golf team made history on Saturday afternoon as it shot a sizzling final round 2-under 286 to win the NCAA D2 South Region Championship at the Streamsong Resort.
The Flames (868) topped a field featuring 11 top 15 nationally ranked teams, winning by three strokes over second place and No. 1 West Florida. No. 10 Columbus (876) and No. 11 Georgia Southwestern (876) tied for third to round out the top four spots and advance on to nationals.
Sophomore leader Beck Burnette and GSC Freshman of the Year Oliver Lewis-Perkins led the way for Lee finishing tied for sixth with a 216 total. Burnette fired a final round 3-under 69 and Lewis-Perkins followed with a 2-under 70.
“I’m so proud of these guys for the performance they put together over these last three days,” said Lee Director of Golf John Maupin, as he proudly held the South Region Trophy. “We kept it together in round one in tough, windy conditions and then made a move in round two. Coming into the final round we talked about being calm, cool and collected all tournament long and these guys just went out and did the job. We had it to 10-under at one point and I’m just proud of this accomplishment. All the credit goes to these guys. What a memorable day!”
Dustin DeMersseman (75, 72, 73) and Connor Pollman (75, 70, 75) both tied for 24th with a 220 total while senior Evan Spence was tied for 46th with a 224 total after posting a final round 74.
After an opening round 304 the Flames made a huge jump up the leaderboard on moving day as they fired a 9-under 279 in round two to end the day tied for second before finishing under par again in the final 18.
“It’s just hard to put into words what I’m feeling right now,” said fifth-year senior Evan Spence. “We knew this team was capable of doing something special and to be able to put it altogether and win the region is something we’ll never forget.”
Burnette echoed those statements saying, “we talked all year long about having unfinished business after the way last season ended so we went out this year and finished the job.”
“These guys are special. We played all spring together and it was just a memorable walk up 18 for me when coach told me we were going to win,” said Pollman. “We are excited to get to nationals and play another solid tournament and who knows what can happen.”
Alberto Avila of Erskine claimed the medalist victory with a 7-under 209. Avila also punched his ticket to nationals. He won by two strokes over second place, Ronan Kleu of Columbus State who finished with a 5-under 211.
“I love these guys. We all believed in one another and to go out and accomplishment one of our biggest goals today was just an incredible experience,” said DeMersseman.
Lewis-Perkins added, “It’s amazing. I’ve worked so hard with these guys, I’m kinda speech right now. What a feeling.”
The victory marks the 10th time a GSC school has won the South Region Championship. The Flames have now make their first appearance in the NCAA D2 National Championship. The tournament will take place on May 17-21 in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.