Tigers Erase 11-Stroke Deficit to Earn 10th-Straight NCAC Title

The Wittenberg Men Stormed Back in Round 2 on Sunday to Earn Their 10th-straight NCAC Title
The Wittenberg Men Stormed Back in Round 2 on Sunday to Earn Their 10th-straight NCAC Title

Mansfield, Ohio – After trailing Ohio Wesleyan by 11 strokes following day one of competition at the 2019 NCAC Men's Golf Championships, the fourth-ranked Wittenberg Tigers posted a seven-under 281 on Sunday to finish the tournament with a team score of 583 and a nine-stroke advantage over Ohio Wesleyan for their 10th-straight NCAC title. The tournament was condensed to a 36-hole event after inclement weather forced round one to be cancelled on Friday at the par-72, 6,910-yard Westbrook C.C. in Mansfield.

As the NCAC Champions, the Tigers have earned the league's automatic bid into the 2019 NCAA Division III Men's Golf Championships, which will be held at the par-72, 7,190-yard Keene Trace Champions Course in Nicholasville, Kentucky, May 14-17. 

In addition to the Tigers picking up the come-from-behind win in the team standings, junior Cameron Willis earned the Bob Nye Award as the Champion Medalist after finishing as the lone golfer under-par in the 40-golfer field. After carding an even-par score of 72 on Saturday, Willis posted a four-under 68 on Sunday to finish as the individual champion with 140 strokes. In the two rounds combined, Willis registered 10 total birdies, which included carding birdies in both rounds on the fifth and 11th holes. The fifth played as a 505-yard, par-5, while the 11th was a short 359-yard par-4. 

While Willis led the way over the two days of competition, the four remaining Wittenberg golfers all picked up NCAC accolades for their performances. Senior Cooper Taylor joined Willis on the first team after tying for second in the individual standings with a two-day score of 145 (76-69). Taylor's second-round 69 featured five total birdies, highlighted by back-to-back birdies on the first and second holes, which played as holes 10 and 11 on championship Sunday. 

The duo of senior Colin Laszlo and junior Ryan Mallette landed on the All-NCAC second team after finishing as part of a three-way tie for eighth with 149 strokes each. Ironically, Laszlo and Mallette both finished the two-day event with identical scorecards, posting rounds of 77 on Saturday and even-par scores of 72 on Sunday. Laszlo carded five birdies over the two days of play, while Mallette posted three birdies and 25 pars throughout tournament play. 

Sophomore Chris Dunne rounded out the lineup on the All-NCAC Honorable Mention team after he tied for 11th with Allegheny's Tyler Pham with a 151. Dunne shot a six-over 78 in the opening round, before bouncing back with a one-over 73 on Sunday to earn the All-NCAC honor. 

In addition, the Tigers picked up two more awards in the post-tournament awards ceremony as Laszlo was crowned as the 2019 Dick Gordin Award winner as the league's overall Player of the Year and head coach Michael Leotta was named the 2019 NCAC Men's Golf Coach of the Year. Laszlo is now the fifth player in program history to earn the Gordin Award, while Leotta picked up the Men's Golf Coach of the Year for the first time in his short career at Wittenberg.

Laszlo was a model of consistency for the Tigers throughout the 2018-19 regular season as he posted an 18-hole scoring average of 72.82 in 22 rounds of competition. He finished in the top-10 in six of the nine regular season tournaments and never finished worse than 21st, highlighted by tying for second in the season-opening Transylvania Fall Invitational in Lexington, Kentucky.