MIRAMAR BEACH, F.L. – Senior Kim Koivu shot 71 in the final round of the Sun Belt Conference men’s golf championships to take medalist honors Tuesday (April 21st, 2015) at Raven Golf Club, and Georgia Southern won the team title in its inaugural season in the league.
It was the Eagles’ second consecutive conference championship – Georgia Southern won the Southern Conference last season – and the ninth conference title in school history. The victory gives Georgia Southern the Sun Belt’s automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals May 13-15. The Eagles will find out their destination and competition during the NCAA Championship Selection Show May 4.
Koivu (-6) held off classmate Scott Wolfes (-4) who shot 72 today to finish second. Freshman Archer Price (+6) carded a 74 today and tied for 21st, while junior Andrew Klasing (+4) posted a 78 and tied for 12th. Senior Matt Mierzejewski (+10) shot a 79 and tied for 32nd.
“Kim and Scott played tremendous all week,” said Georgia Southern coach Carter Collins. “They were the anchors for every round and every time we needed them to pick up the rest of the team, they did it.”
The Eagles (-3) were the only team to shoot under par for the tournament and won by 16 strokes over second-place UT Arlington (+13). ULM (+14) shot an even-par 284 today to move to third, and Georgia State (+15) finished fourth.
The Eagles shot 14-under par in the first two rounds, all played Monday, and held a 20-stroke lead headed into today’s action.
“The team fought through a lot of adversity today,” said Collins. “The wind changed, and the course showed a lot of teeth and played about as difficult as it can. Just like yesterday, we got punched in the mouth a couple times but kept fighting at got the result we wanted.”
Koivu became the eighth Eagle to win a conference individual title and the first since Drew Lethem, who won the SoCon in 2009. His score of 69-67-71=207 tied for the fourth-lowest round in Sun Belt championship history and was the lowest since 2008.
“I drove the ball pretty well and hit a lot of good wedges to give myself a lot of birdie opportunities, and took advantage of some of those,” said Koivu.
Georgia Southern’s team score of 279-275-295=849 was just three strokes higher than the Sun Belt Championship record of 846, set by South Alabama in 1994.
The Eagles now set their sights on the NCAA Regionals and trying to advance to the finals for the first time since 2010.
“Many of the fields we’ve played in this year are as good or better as a regional field,” said Director of Golf Larry Mays. “Our worst finish was ninth, and you have to finish fifth or better to advance. We’ve got some guys who have been there before who can provide some experience. You have to have a good week at Regionals. We had a good week last year until about the last 12 holes.”