Conover, N.C. – Lynn University's men's golf team claimed the top seed in match play for the 2015 NCAA Division II National Championship after taking first place in stroke play with a 54-hole score of 853. The Fighting Knights have now reached match play for the third consecutive year and fourth time in five seasons.
Mateo Gomez also became the second men's golfer in program history to finish as the national runner-up (Daniel Young was runner-up in 2011) while Jose Miranda tied the tournament low with a five-under par 66 to tie for 10th individually.
The top-eight teams of the 20 participating move on to match play, a head-to-head competition where the lowest score earns a point and the best of five points claims the match. The Blue & White battle the eighth-seeded Florida Southern Moccasins in the quarterfinals round, with the winner advancing to take on the winner of No. 4 Saint Leo and No. 5 Simon Fraser.
Nova Southeastern earned the No. 2 seed and will square-off against Chico State with the winner taking on the winner of No. 3 Central Missouri/No. 6 South Carolina-Aiken.
Lynn finished two shots ahead of Nova Southeastern (855). Central Missouri ended up tying Saint Leo (858) but the Mules earned the higher seed by virtue of their lower final round score (285-290). The Lions dropped from second to fourth but the largest drop came from Aiken, which fell from first to sixth place.
Gomez and Miranda played crucial roles in helping Lynn earn the top seed with the duo combining to shoot nine-under par with 12 birdies. Martin Cancino was one-over on the day and closed out stroke play tied for 14th individually.
After opening with a lipped-out bogey on the first hole, Miranda played flawless golf. He birdied the next hole to reach even and then sank putts on holes Nos. 6 and 9 to move to two-under. The junior out of Ecuador then connected on three birdies over a four hole stretch to finish five-under on the day.
Gomez his day with three consecutive birdies before a bogey on the sixth hole. Lynn shot 5-over par on No. 6 as a team. The recently announced National Golf Coaches Association of America First Team All-American then birdied two more holes on the back nine, including a 40-foot putt, to close the overall lead gap to two shots. Unfortunately he bogeyed the par 5 14th hole and ended the afternoon with a four-under 67.
Cancino scored a negative/positive mark on every-other hole on the front nine en route to shooting +2. He then moved to three-over par after hitting in the water off his second shot. Luckily he converted on a 10-foot putt to save bogey while giving him momentum for consecutive birdies.
Elliott Whitley and Keith Greene logged scores of 75 and 77, respectively. Whitley sank seven pars but three-putted on the sixth hole for a double-bogey and lipped out a putt on the ninth hole to move to three-over par. He did close out his day with two birdies over his last four holes.
Greene had a more difficult time. He birdied his first hole but putted past the hole and missed the subsequent putt for bogey on hole No. 2 and then hit in the water on the third hole. The senior out of Debary, Fla., thought he turned a corner with a birdie on the eighth hole but two more double-bogey's brought him to +8. Greene fought off adversity and over his last five holes shot two-under par.
Lynn has reached match play four times since it was first instituted in 2011. The Blue & White earned the top-seed in 2011 but lost to CSU-Monterey Bay in the finals. Lynn was the No. 2 seed in 2013 when it lost to Barry in the national championship match by virtue of aggregate score and last year fell to Chico State in the quarterfinals.
The Fighting Knights take the links in the quarterfinals at 7:30 am from the first tee box. Fans can keep track of scores hole-by-hole at LynnFightingKnights.com and receive in-tournament updates by following @Lynn_Knights on Twitter and Instagram.
Mateo Gomez (70-71-67=208/2nd)
Jose Miranda (73-73-66=212/T-10th)
Martin Cancino (70-71-72=213/T-14th)
Keith Greene (70-75-77=222/T-50th)
Elliott Whitley (77-75-75=227/T-70th)