NORMAN, Okla. – The defending national champions Saint Leo University begins the season as No. 1 in the Division II Bushnell Coaches preseason poll as announced Friday, August 26 by the Golf Coaches Association of America.
The Lions, who won the University's first ever national title, individual or team, were selected to open the season as No. 1 with 449 points and 12 first place votes. The Sunshine State Conference represented the top-four teams in the poll with Saint Leo leading the way followed by Florida Southern, who had 417 points and one first place vote, Lynn, who had 410 points and four first place votes, and Barry, who had 389 points and one first place vote. Florida Southern and Lynn were both finished the season as national semifinalists where Barry were quarterfinalists. The four teams ranked ahead of the national runners-up, Chico State, who tops the poll as the fifth-ranked team, with 380 total points.
Of the top-25 in the preseason poll, the SSC is represented by six teams with the top-four, Nova Southeastern in at seventh and then Florida Tech breaking the top-25 at 24th. The Sharks had 354 points where the Panthers had 78 points.
Saint Leo made their run to national champions behind one of the best performances in history in Denver with records for the low 36-hole and 54-hole scores by both the team and individual golfer, led by sophomore Hugo Bernard. Bernard set the individual lows for 36 holes, 131 (13 under) and 54 holes, 203 (13 under) before guiding the Lions to the team lows, 551 (25 under) for 36 holes and 848 (16 under) for 54.
Bernard was crowned the first-ever individual national champion after the stroke play in Denver before leading the team to win the team title, defeating Chico State 3-2. The Lions opened up match/medal play with a 3-2 victory over Wilmington (DE) in the quarterfinals before getting revenge on SSC for Lynn in the semifinals. Saint Leo and Lynn tied 2-2-1 where the Lions prevailed by a one-stroke margin to advance to the finals. Saint Leo saw victories from Ryan Gendron, Bernard and Griffin Clark to win the title. Gendron won by seven over Matt Hutchins. Bernard won by seven over Alistair Docherty and Clark won by three over Kelley Sullivan to win the first team national title in school history.
The Lions open their season on September 19 when they host the Saint Leo Invitational at Lake Jovita.
For the latest news, updates, and information on the Saint Leo men's golf team, visit SaintLeoLions.com. Fans can also stay up-to-date on the latest Lions news by following Saint Leo Athletics on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.