Kissimmee, Fla. – A birdie putt from freshman Toto Gana on the 18th hole of the semifinals capped a wild 36 holes and put the Lynn University men's golf team in the NCAA Division II National Championship Finals Match. The Fighting Knights defeated Florida Tech 3-1-1 in the morning before Gana's heroics gave the team a 3-2 win against Arkansas Tech. Lynn will square off with fellow Sunshine State Conference institution Florida Southern in the title match on Friday at 9 a.m.
INSIDE THE TOURNAMENT:
Results: Quarterfinals – No. 4 Lynn def. No. 5 Florida Tech 3-1-1; Semifinals – No. 4 Lynn def. No. 8 Arkansas Tech 3-2-0
Location: Reunion Resort | Kissimmee, Fla.
Par/Yardage: 70/7,054 yards
History at Event: Fifth consecutive NCAA National Championship match play appearance; Sixth overall (most in Division II history); 10th NCAA national Championship appearance overall (runner-up in 2015, 2013 and 2011)
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HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Quarterfinals vs. Florida Tech
- Two golfers rallied from deficits to give Lynn a 3-1-1 victory over Florida Tech.
- Martin Cancino was the first point for the Fighting Knights. The senior from Santiago, Chile, found himself trailing by two shots with three holes to go but drew all square on his 16th hole with a birdie putt compared to his opponent's bogey. Cancino then birdied the next hole and earned a par to take a two-stroke victory. He finished with a two-under par 68.
- Mateo Gomez was the only loss with a three-over par 73 in the second position.
- Felix Kvarnstrom logged the biggest comeback of the day. The freshman out of Gothenburg, Sweden, battled back from a five-stroke deficit to earn a draw in the third position. Kvarnstrom used three birdies on the last nine holes for a two-under 68.
- Gana led for all but one hole in the fourth position, adding a key stroke on the final hole to win by two shots with a one-over par 71.
- Manuel Torres clinched the win. Leading for most of the front nine, the junior ran into trouble on the first three holes of the back nine. Back-to-back birdies on holes No 3 & 4 put him on top for the rest of the match. His 71 was one stroke better than his opponent.
- Semifinals vs. Arkansas Tech
- Lynn saw two golfers win big and two fall to large deficits before Gana drained a six-foot putt to win the match.
- Cancino's good fortunes from the morning did not carry over to the afternoon. Despite shooting a two-over par 72 he fell by five shots.
- Mateo Gomez turned his game around after a difficult quarterfinals, topping his opponent by four shots, 72-76.
- Kvarnstrom saw similar success against ATU's third golfer. He shot a 74 and won by four strokes.
- The match came down to Gana at the fourth position. The Latin American Amateur Champion and 2017 Masters Participant did not disappoint. After battling back and forth for much of the front nine, Gana took a one stroke lead on the ninth hole and never looked back, despite some pressure from Arkansas Tech. A two-shot lead was reduced to one following a 20-foot birdie putt from ATU but Gana stuck his shot on 18 four feet from the hole and buried the birdie to send Lynn to the national championship.
- Torres had a tough four stroke loss in the fifth position.
BEYOND THE SCORECARD:
- Since match play was instituted in 2011, Lynn is making its fourth national title match appearance. The six match play appearances is the most in NCAA Division II history.
- Gana has experience winning in tense situations after winning the LAAC in the second playoff hole.
- Had Gana missed the putt, Arkansas Tech would have advanced on the aggregate score of its five golfers compared to Lynn's score.
- This will be the second national championship match play appearance for both Martin Cancino and Mateo Gomez. They join Daniel Young and Jose Miranda as two-time national championship match play participants.
- Lynn is looking for its first NCAA national championship. The Fighting Knights won the 1995 NAIA national title.
- The next national crown for Lynn will be No. 24.
- The Sunshine State Conference is assured of winning the 101st title in league history.
Lynn battles Florida Southern in the national championship finals on Friday, May 26, at 9 a.m. at the Reunion Resort. Fans can keep up shot-for-shot with live scoring at LynnFightingKnights.com.