Illinois Wesleyan wins program’s first NCAA men’s golf national championship in 2019 at Keene Trace

IWU player sinking putt

Nicholasville, Ky. – The No. 3 Illinois Wesleyan University Titans captured their first national championship in men's golf on Friday afternoon, winning the 2019 NCAA Division III Men's Golf National Championship at Keene Trace Golf Club.

Leading the field wire-to-wire, the Titans completed their championship procession in Friday's fourth and final round, carding a six-over-par team score of 294 to turn in a championship-clinching four-day total of 1174 to win over the second-place No. 2 Huntingdon College Hawks by three strokes.

The Titans, who entered Friday morning's final round in a tie with the Hawks, created enough separation over the final two holes of play to stave off Huntingdon for its first national title. Huntingdon shot a nine-over-par 297 on Friday to produce an 1177 team score.

The No. 6 Guilford College Quakers finished in third place with a team total of 1181 to finish seven strokes behind Illinois Wesleyan, while the Concordia University Texas Tornadoes took fourth place with a four-round 1193; the Tornadoes turned in the best Friday score of the 18 remaining teams, shooting a five-over-par 293.

Sam Goldenring of Williams College completed his individual championship chase Friday afternoon, winning medalist honors over the 216-player field with a four-day score of 285 to win by two strokes over No. 12 Hope College's Josh Gibson. Goldenring carried a two-stroke lead into the final day of play and won by that same margin, turning in an even-par 72 on the final 18 holes.

The junior from Williams began the day on fire, sinking three birdies and three pars over the first six holes before encountering his only turbulence on the eighth and ninth holes with a bogey and a double bogey. Goldenring remained unfazed by his finish on the front nine, making par on his final nine holes to finish at even par on the back nine.

Goldenring won by two strokes over Gibson and by three strokes over Drew Mathers of Huntingdon, who finished in third place on the individual leaderboard with a four-round score of 288. Mathers shot a one-over-par 73 in the final round to lead a dramatic charge by the Hawks, who were pursuing their first national championship. Goldenring raised the walnut and bronze after entering the week as one of six individuals competing at the 2019 National Championships.

No. 17 Oglethorpe's Jacob Arnett finished fourth on the individual leaderboard with a two-over-par 290 and Guilford's James Mishoe set the standard for the Quakers this week with a fifth-place finish off a four-round 292.

Southwestern's Cade Osgood, Huntingdon's Stephen Shephard, Guilford's Josh Hill, Illinois Wesleyan's Drew Pershing, and Guilford's Addison Manring all rounded out the top-10 in order.

The rest of the top-10 on the team leaderboard consisted of No. 5 Methodist College matching its national ranking with a fifth-place finish, No. 4 Wittenberg University taking sixth, Oglethorpe placing seventh, No. 13 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges taking eighth, Hope finishing ninth, and No. 25 Trinity College (Conn.) taking 10th place.

The week, however, belonged to Illinois Wesleyan, who honed in on the university's first national championship in men's golf starting with Tuesday's first round. The Titans held at least a share of first place on the team leaderboard after each round this week and seldom wavered versus the field. Friday's championship celebration capped off a long wait for the Titans, who were one of three teams making their 13th consecutive trip to a national championship round. The championship also culminated a long journey for 19th-year Titans head coach Jim Ott, a 1991 alum of Illinois Wesleyan and a former team captain on the Titans men's golf team.

The five competing members of Illinois Wesleyan this week were led by Pershing, who shot a one-under 71 in the final round, Ben Johnson and Rob Wuetrich, who each finished in a tie for 15th on the individual leaderboard with scores of 296, Andrew Abel, who came in 24th place with a score of 299, and Skylar Le Vine, who carded a two-over-par 72 on Friday to finish with a 302.

This year's title run marks the second top-2 finish for the Titans, who were the national runners-up in 2011 and the third top-5 finish for the program.

Huntingdon completed its second runner-up finish in school history, their third top-3 finish, and fifth top-4 finish with its second-place showing at Keene Trace.

Guilford added to its trophy case with its sixth top-3 finish in program history. The Quakers have previously won the national championship twice and finished as runner-up three times.

Friday's round also marked an end to the first men's golf national championship hosted by Transylvania University, located in nearby Lexington, Kentucky. The Pioneers made their 13th straight appearance at the Division III National Championships this week and finished in 21st place out of 42 teams.

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