FLORENCE, S.C. – The Francis Marion University men’s golf team will tee off Tuesday morning in search of a national title as the NCAA Division II National Championship Tournament begins at the Crosswater Golf Club in Sunriver, Ore.
The four-day, 72-hole tournament will be played on the par 72, 7,296-yard Crosswater Club course at the Sunriver Resort, and will be hosted by California State University at Chico.
The 18-team field includes 10 regional winners and eight at-large selections. Twelve individual golfers, whose teams did not qualify, will also compete.
This will be Francis Marion’s third trip to the national championship since joining Division II in 1992, and its second straight selection. The other two appearances – a 10th-place finish in 2002 and a 15th-place finish in 1998, both came when the championship was hosted by the Mission Inn Golf Club in Howey-in-the-Hills, Fla.
The Patriots earned an at-large selection after rallying to finish second (to USC Aiken) at the Southeast Regional in Greensboro, Ga., May 5-7.
The national championship field includes Barton College, Bryant College, University of California at Davis, California State University at Bakersfield, Cal State Chico, California State University at Stanislaus, University of Central Oklahoma, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Ferris State University, Francis Marion, Millersville University, University of North Alabama, Pfeiffer University, Rollins College, USCA, Washburn University, University of West Florida, and Western Washington University.
Rollins won last year’s title after receiving an at-large invitation, while UWF won the 2001 national championship. Each of the past 11, and 18 of the past 19 national champions have come from the Southeastern United States.
Francis Marion owns a 112-43-2 record and is ranked 12th in the latest Precept Division II Coaches Top 25 poll. The Patriots have been ranked in the Top 15 in each of the past 14 national polls dating back to 2001. The Patriots own a 3-13 mark against other teams in the national tournament, although many of the losses were by just a few strokes.
This will be Francis Marion’s second trip to the West Coast this year. On April 1, the Patriots placed fourth at the UC Davis Aggie Invitational in El Macero, Calif. FMU finished three strokes behind Western Washington and Cal State Bakersfield, and one stroke behind Cal State Stanislaus, while beating UC Davis and Chico State.
The five-man FMU squad will consist of juniors Fredrik Ohlsson (72.4 stroke average) and Per Hallberg (77.3), and seniors Matt Dura (74.7), Dylan Keylock (74.2), and Juan Pablo Bossi (74.9). The team average is 295.6 strokes per round for 29 rounds. Ohlsson’s average is on a pace to be the lowest season average in the history of the program.
These same five also represented Francis Marion at last year’s championship. Dura led the Patriots by tying for third place, the best individual finisher ever for an FMU golfer at a national tournament. Keylock tied for 45th, Ohlsson tied for 49th, Bossi tied for 68th, and Hallberg tied for 80th. The Patriots struggled over the final nine holes of last year’s opening round to place 13th with a 312 team score. By bettering its score each day (312-307-302-298), Francis Marion climbed to 10th place after the final round. Three Patriots shot 80 or higher on the first day.
The 12 individual golfers who qualified are Pierre Goethals (Abilene Christian University), Nick Cowper (Armstrong Atlantic State University), Eric Swenson (Bentley College), Matt Guyton (Clarion College), Chris Taylor (Coker College), Jeremy Lederer (Fort Lewis College), Dave Patronik (Gannon University), Tommy Medina (Grand Canyon University), Nick Mason (University of Hawaii at Hilo), Luke Stephan (Kennesaw State University), Keir McNicoll (Lynn University), and Kyle Long (Missouri Southern State College).
Prior to joining the NCAA in 1992, FMU made seven appearances in the NAIA national tournament, finishing tied for seventh in 1973, seventh in 1974, fourth in 1976, 10th in 1977, eighth in 1979, tied for sixth in 1991, and 16th in 1992.
Chosen by Golf Digest as one of “America's Greatest 100 Courses," the Crosswater Club derives its name from being dissected by the Deschutes and Little Deschutes Rivers. Designer Bob Cupp situated the course on a protected wetland.
Fans can follow the tournament scores at www.golfstat.com
Francis Marion University 2002-03 Patriot Golf Roster
Name Yr. Ht. RH/LH Hometown Rds Strokes Avg
Juan Pablo Bossi Sr. 6-0 RH Alta Gracia, Argentina 23 1723 74.9
Matt Dura Sr. 6-2 RH Sumter, SC 26 1943 74.7
Per Hallberg Jr. 6-3 RH Ytterby, Sweden 27 2086 77.3
Adam Hart Fr. 6-1 RH Blythewood, SC 9 696 77.3
Luke Hart Fr. 6-0 RH Blythewood, SC 6 454 75.7
Battle Hartman Fr. 5-9 RH Jefferson, SC 8 616 77.0
Dylan Keylock Sr. 5-11 RH Johannesburg, South Africa 23 1706 74.2
Fredrik Ohlsson Jr. 5-8 RH Goteborg, Sweden 29 2100 72.4
Luke Wilcox Jr. 5-10 RH Florence, SC 0
Team 29 8571 295.6