Muscle Shoals, Ala. – There was drama at every turn but in the end Lynn University's fourth-ranked men's golf team was able to overcome obstacles to defeat Arkansas Tech 2-2-1 and long-time rival Barry 3-2 to advance to the NCAA Division II National Championship match. Lynn will face West Florida on Friday, beginning at 8 a.m. CT.
The Fighting Knights are making their fifth national championship match play appearance, the most in NCAA Division I and Division II history and two more than any other institution (Nova Southeastern – 3; Alabama – 3). Lynn's seven match play appearances is also an NCAA D2 record.
The Blue and White finished runner-up in 2017, 2015, 2013 and 2011, were semifinalists in 2016 and were quarterfinalists in 2014.
INSIDE THE TOURNAMENT:
Quarterfinals: Lynn def. Arkansas Tech 2-2-1 (advanced on stroke differential)
Semifinals: Lynn def. Barry 3-2-0
Location: Robert Trent Jones at the Shoals – Fighting Joe Course | Muscle Shoals, Ala.
History at Event: Sixth consecutive national championship appearance; 12th overall (Finished runner-up at RTJ – the Shoals in 2011).
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HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Lynn claimed victories at the Nos. 1, 2 & 5 position.
- After losing by three strokes and carding a 79 in the quarterfinals, Jorge Villar bounced back with a vengeance, shooting a two-under par 70 to defeat Kyle Brey by five shots. He drained six birdies in the victory.
- Toto Gana held on for a one-stroke victory (67-68) against Tyler Bakich. Backich made it interesting, birdieing each of his last two holes but Gana held a three-shot advantage with two holes to play following a huge birdie on No. 16.
- Both Felix Kvarnstrom and Manuel Torres collected losses as Kvarnstrom fell by five shots to Daniel Faccini and Torres was three shots back of Niclas Weiland.
- The top Buccaneers golfer, Jorge Garcia, squared-off against Bustos and the sophomore out of Chile did not flinch. Carlos Bustos led by two through 11 holes but a double-bogey put the twosome all-squared. A 50-foot birdie putt on the No. 13 par 3 hole put Bustos back on top and he drilled another birdie on No. 15 to go ahead by two. Garcia cut the deficit to one and had honors on the final hole, only to hit his tee shot long while Bustos stuck it to within four-feet. Bustos sank the birdie to punch Lynn's ticket to the national championship.
- Lynn was pushed to the brink by Arkansas Tech despite the Wonder Boys only fielding four players due to an injury. The Blue and White held the tiebreaker by virtue of having a full lineup of five golfers.
- Villar dropped the first point by three strokes.
- Gana sank a birdie on his second-to-last hole to go up by two shots, which was much needed after his tee shot off the final hole went wayward. Needing only a bogey to secure the tie, Gana did just that.
- Torres played extremely well with a four-under 68 to beat his opponent by five strokes.
- Felix Kvarnstrom's opponent was injured, securing the winning point.
- Bustos shot a three-over 75 and lost by three strokes at the No. 5 position.
BEYOND THE SCORECARD:
- Lynn defeated Arkansas Tech 3-2 in last year's NCAA Division II match play semifinals.
- Gana matched his career-low 18 score with a 67 against the Bucs.
- Bustos' 65 against the Buccaneers was the second-lowest of his career and top score since posting a 64 at the FAU Spring Championship this past March.
- Gana is now 4-0-1 in match play, two shy of the program-record for match play victories held by Elliott Whitley.
- This marks the first time in NCAA D2 history the top-four seeds advanced to the national semifinals with No. 1 Florida Southern falling 3-1-1 to No. 4 West Florida and No. 3 Lynn topping No. 2 Barry.
- West Florida is making its first match play national championship. The Argos claimed stroke-play national titles in 2008 and 2001.
Lynn plays for the national championship against West Florida beginning at 8 a.m. CT. Fans can keep up with action shot for shot at LynnFightingKnights.com or by following @Lynn_Knights on Twitter and Instagram.