Greensboro, N.C. – In the midst of an illustrious 12-year run of national championship appearances, the Transylvania men's golf team signed off Friday with their fourth-best showing during that span, turning in a 10th-place finish to complete the fourth and final round of the NCAA Division III Men's Golf National Championships at the Grandover Resort.
Entering the morning in a tie for fifth place, the Pioneers shot a 16-over-par 304 team score to finish the day in 10th place, its fourth top-10 finish in the last 12 years.
Leading the way on the final day of play for the Pioneers was sophomore Spencer McKinney, who finished the course on a blistering pace, improving upon his round-one score of 79 to turn in a one-under-par 71 in the final round.
McKinney sank a round-best five birdies among the Pioneers, including a tournament-ending birdie on the 18th hole. The sophomore finished his second consecutive appearance at the national championships at nine-over, good for 37th place on the 216-man individual leaderboard.
Transylvania men's golf head coach Brian Lane was elated with the Pioneers' showing all week long, which led to a memorable output, standing tall among a legacy of a Transylvania men's golf greatness. "I'm extremely proud of our top-10 finish," commented Lane. "It's great to see our program back in the last two groups at the NCAA championship and it is certainly something we can build on as we look to win the conference championship next year."
McKinney was followed Friday by junior Jack Berger, who scored a five-over-par 77 to finish up his first run at a national championship, bolstered by a string of eight consecutive pars to begin his Friday.
It was a satisfying ending to a season for Berger, who picked up three Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Week awards during his 2017-2018 campaign. Berger finished in a tie for 54th place on the individual leaderboard.
Senior Carson Wattenbarger turned in the final scorecard of his collegiate career with a six-over-par 78 to finish a fine career which crescendoed at these championships. Wattenbarger finished in a tie for 51st place.
Sophomore Harrison Lane completed his first showing at a national championship with a 78 on Friday to finish in 83rd place among individuals.
Junior Blake Young finished as the Pioneers' low scorer for the week, turning in a 78 in Friday's final round. Young finished at five-over-par for the four-round championships, finishing in a tie for 18th on the individual leaderboard. Young's performance will go down as one of the best individual performances for a Pioneer men's golfer at a national championship.
While the Pioneers posted its highest score of their four rounds on Friday, Lane acknowledged the ongoing weather-related challenges that seemed to change day-by-day at the championship-worthy Grandover Resort. "The conditions were difficult today with wind and pin placements. We were not able to make up enough ground because we did not have enough birdies."
Methodist University finished off their title run on Friday, winning over second-place Washington and Lee by 11 strokes to capture the 2018 national championship. Texas-Tyler finished in third, one stroke back of Washington and Lee, while Concordia (Texas) placed fourth. Tournament host Guilford College finished in fifth place.
The 2018 run at the national championships for Transylvania represents its fourth-best placing during an ongoing run of 12 straight appearances at the national championships. The Pioneers finished the 2012 and 2013 championships as national runners-up and took eighth place at the 2014 national championships.
With the 2018 national championships in the books, the attention now shifts for the upcoming year to Lexington and Nicholasville, Kentucky as the Pioneers receive the figurative baton today of hosting honors for the 2019 NCAA Division III Men's Golf National Championships.
As the host institution for the 2019 national championships, the Pioneers will welcome 42 programs to the Keene Trace Golf Club in nearby Nicholasville for next year's event. The Pioneers now aspire to win what would be their 13th consecutive conference title in order to follow Guilford's steps in the role of competing tournament hosts.
"I know our guys will have added incentive to work extremely hard in preparation for next year after getting a taste of a top-five finish this year," said Lane.
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