Lions head into medal/match play as the no. 1 seed, while Hugo Bernard (-13) captures the NCAA Division II individual championship.
DENVER, Colo. – Saint Leo men's golf was atop both the individual and team leaderboards at the completion of stroke play on Thursday at the NCAA Division II Men's Golf Championship at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club.
Freshman Hugo Bernard shot an even-par 72 in Thursday's third and final round, and finished stroke play at -13 (203) to win the NCAA Division II individual championship. Bernard bested Western New Mexico's Calum Hill (-11) by two strokes to become Saint Leo's first individual or team NCAA national champion. His -13 broke the 54-hole championship record co-held by Central Oklahoma's Josh Creel and Colorado School of Mines' Jim Knous.
Bernard posted birdies on a pair of par-5s, nos. 2 and 12, against bogeys on nos. 3 and 18. He completed stroke play at nine-under on Green Valley Ranch's par-5s with a 4.25 stroke average.
"Hugo played great. He played great all week. Hit the ball well, putted well - he did everything right. You can't go out there and shoot 13-under and make a lot of mistakes and he didn't," said Chris Greenwood, Saint Leo's head men's golf coach.
Bernard was the recipient of the Division II Arnold Palmer Award from the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) as the national individual champion.
Senior Liam Ainsworth finished in a three-way tie for eighth after firing a four-under on Thursday, and a -7 (209) for the championship. He jumped 10 places in the final standings after carding five birdies in the third round, including his first two holes of the day at no. 1 and no. 2. Ainsworth's remaining three birdies came on the back nine with one bogey, giving him a two-under on both the front and back nine.
Junior Joey Savoie completed stroke play in 11th place at -6 (210), after shooting a 75 (+3) on Thursday. He carded birdies on the 1st, 2nd, and 14th and was at one-under through 15, but went four-over on the last three holes to finish one stroke behind Ainsworth.
Redshirt sophomore Griffin Clark shot an even-par 72 in the third round with three birdies, and was at an even 216 for the championship to finish tied for 27th overall. Junior Ryan Gendron completed stroke play with a +4 (76) for the round, and tied for 86th on the leaderboard at +12 (228).
Saint Leo completed stroke play with a -26 (838), smashing the 54-hole team record at the NCAA championship. The previous record was -16 set by Florida Southern in 1999.
The Lions advance to the eight-team medal/match bracket as the No. 1 seed, and will face No. 8 seed Wilmington University (Del.) on Friday, May 20. The two teams will tee off from no. 1 starting at 7:35 a.m. Mountain Time, with the final pairing of Joey Savoie and Andreas Lunding going at 8:15 a.m. MT.
The Lions will be advancing to medal/match play for the second straight year, after reaching the semifinals in 2015 and falling to Sunshine State Conference rival Lynn University. Lynn will again join Saint Leo in the medal/match round as the no. 4 seed, along with fellow SSC members no. 5 Barry and no. 3 Florida Southern. No. 2 Chico State, no. 6 Cal Baptist, and no. 7 West Florida complete the teams advancing out of stroke play by finishing among the top eight.
"I'm proud of the guys - they played well," said Greenwood. "Anytime you can shoot those numbers you are obviously doing a lot of things right. We will enjoy the fact that we did this the last three days; the next two days though we gotta go back out and do it again. And we will be back up early in the morning tomorrow and hopefully just keep it going."
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