Defiance, Ohio – For the 12th straight year, the Transylvania men's golf team laid claim to the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Men's Golf championship, finishing off four rounds in resounding fashion on Sunday afternoon at Eagle Rock Golf Club.
The Pioneers capped off four majestic rounds over two weeks on Sunday with a 72-hole team score of 1158 to finish 51 strokes ahead of second-place Franklin College.
The Pioneers fired a four-over par 284 on Sunday to secure the conference title and its 12th consecutive automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Men's Golf Tournament, beginning in 11 days.
Sophomore Spencer McKinney led the march to the 2018 HCAC title with a four-round six-under par score of 278, finishing a majestic performance with a four-under par 66 on Sunday at Eagle Rock. McKinney finished 10 strokes ahead of the second-place finisher, Mikel Merker to earn the individual HCAC championship and grab HCAC Most Valuable Player accolades in a landslide.
McKinney had plenty of help from his teammates over the course of the two-week championship procession, including junior Blake Young, who shot a four-round 290, to finish in third place on the individual leaderboard. Young shot a two-over par 72 on Sunday to finish six-over for the tournament.
Junior Jack Berger finished off his loud 2018 regular season by shooting a one-over par 71 to finish in fourth place with a four-round total of 291. Sophomore Harrison Lane, son of Transylvania men's golf head coach Brian Lane, signed off successfully at his HCAC Tournament debut with a round 300, good for a share of sixth place on the individual leaderboard.
McKinney, Young, Berger, and Lane were named to the HCAC All-Conference team for Men's Golf for finishing in the top-eight.
Senior Carson Wattenbarger recorded a top-13 finish with a score of 306, capping off a consistent two-week stretch for all five Pioneer golfers.
In leading the Pioneers to their 12th consecutive conference title and record 12th straight trip to the NCAA Tournament, Lane received HCAC Men's Golf Coach of the Year honors on Sunday.
"It is exciting to see our team peaking once again at the right time of the year as we head into the NCAA Tournament," said Lane during the clubhouse celebration at Eagle Rock. "I felt like this team would be able to be in this position by the end of the year once we got everyone healthy. Spencer being at full strength obviously is a huge plus for us and we have had solid performances by Blake and Jack."
Lane credited the massive victory to a true team effort from players one through five on his potent lineup card. "Getting a low fourth score has been a key for us this year and over the last four rounds, Harrison and Carson came through for us," Lane added.
The 51-stroke margin of victory over its second-place finisher was the second-largest distance by a Transylvania men's golf squad over their unprecedented 12-year conference championship run. The 2008 Pioneers men's golf squad won by 61 strokes on its way to the conference title.
The Pioneers now advance to the 2018 NCAA Men's Golf National Championships, hosted by Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina at the Grandover Resort. The Pioneers are no stranger to the course, having competed there already twice in the 2017-2018 season, first at the Tournament Town Preview last fall and again at the Guilford match play event in early March.
Transylvania will compete in the four-round tournament beginning Tuesday, May 15. If the Pioneers make the two-round cut, they will complete the national championships on Friday, May 18.
Transylvania was the national runners-up in the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 seasons.
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