Muscle Shoals, Ala. - Lynn University's fourth-ranked men's golf team had been in this familiar situation all too many times, four to be exact, but this time Carlos Bustos sank the winning putt on the 18th green to beat top-ranked West Florida 3-2 and secure the 2018 NCAA Division II National Championship. The NCAA title is the first for the men's golf program, and second overall following an NAIA crown in 1996. Lynn has now won 24 national championships in school history.
The Fighting Knights had previously finished runner-up in 2017, 2015, 2013 and 2011, with the first runner-up finish coming on the same golf course they would win on today, the Robert Trent Jones at the Shoals Fighting Joe course.
A day earlier, Bustos knocked-off First Team All-American Jorge Garcia but on this day, the sophomore out of Santiago, Chile, went toe-to-toe and beat three-time First Team All-American and 2017 National Player of the Year Chandler Blanchet. Trailing by as many as three, Bustos took a one-shot lead on the 17th green with a birdie and watched as Blanchet bogeyed 18 to give Lynn the title.
INSIDE THE TOURNMENT:
Finals: Lynn def. West Florida 3-2-0
Location: Robert Trent Jones at the Shoals – Fighting Joe Course | Muscle Shoals, Ala.
History at Event: Sixth consecutive national championship appearance; 12th overall (Finished runner-up at RTJ – the Shoals in 2011).
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HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Jorge Villar led off for Blue and White and engaged in a back-and-forth battle with West Florida's Carlos Marrero but trouble brewed over the final three holes to give the Argonauts the point.
- Toto Gana extended his match play mastery by securing Lynn's first point of the day. Leading by as many as six shots, the Chilean saw his lead shrink to two by the 15th hole but he picked up a stroke on No. 16 and went to the clubhouse with a 70 and three-stroke victory.
- Felix Kvarnstrom was all square with Henry Westmoreland for the first third of the day until Westmoreland claimed strokes on three consecutive holes and never looked back, putting UWF ahead 2-1.
- Senior All-American Manuel Torres knotted the match at 2-2-0 at the fourth position. He posted a five-under par 66 to win by three shots ahead of Jacob Huizinga. He led by just two heading into No. 17 and was putting for a long birdie while Huizinga could have brought the deficit to one with a 10-foot birdie putt but Huizinga missed his attempt and Torres added to his lead on No. 18.
- Bustos was locked into an epic showdown with Blanchet. Going down by three shots after four holes, Bustos saw a chink in the Argo's top player's armor on the ninth hole when he birdied and Blanchet bogeyed, putting the match all square. A tremendous birdie on the No. 13 par 3 tied the match once again until Bustos' heroics on No. 17.
BEYOND THE SCORECARD:
- Lynn has 13 NCAA titles and 11 NAIA crowns for 24 national championships.
- Lynn's seven match play appearances and five national title matches is an NCAA record (Division I and II).
- This is the second national championship for the men's golf team. They won an NAIA title in 1996.
- Lynn's 24 national championships are spread across seven programs (Women's Tennis – 6, Men's Soccer – 5, Women's Golf – 5, Women's Soccer – 4, Men's Golf – 2, Baseball – 1 and Men's Tennis – 1)
- Lynn had failed to beat West Florida in any tournament this year but beat the Argos in both stroke and match play.
- Bustos shot 65 and 66 in consecutive rounds, his second-lowest total in consecutive rounds (FAU Championship 64 & 65) and the third time this year he posted rounds of 68 or better in back-to-back rounds.
- This is the 46th win in program history and the 22nd tournament victory for head coach Andrew Danna.
- Manuel Torres becomes the first golfer in program history to win Sunshine State Conference, NCAA Regional and NCAA National Championship team titles.
- Torres shot rounds of 68-72-66=206 in stroke play. That total ties his career-best 54-hole score.
Lynn is the 2018 NCAA Division II National Champions. The team returns four starters for its 2018-19 title defense. For more information, check out LynnFightingKnights.com.