SAUCIER, Miss. – Georgia State won the 2014 Sun Belt Men’s Golf Championship on Wednesday, holding on by one stroke with a pair of clutch putts on the final hole. The Panthers won their seventh conference title in program history and first as a member of the Sun Belt.
Junior Damon Stephenson drained a birdie putt in the second to last group on the 18th-hole to shoot a final-round 3-under 69 and finish alone in second place.
The Panthers shot a final-round 1-under 287 to finish the 54-hole event at 1-under par. GSU topped South Alabama by one stroke and UT Arlington by two strokes. The Mavericks led the championship by as many as six strokes on the back nine.
Georgia State won its third straight event, a school-record, and the fourth of the year, also establishing a new record.
Stephenson and sophomore J.J. Grey were named to the Sun Belt All-Tournament Team. Grey earned the recognition for the second year in a row.
“I am just so happy for these players,” head coach Joe Inman said. “They have worked so hard and we have come so close the last two years. This is the culmination of years of work and I just couldn’t be any more pleased.
“We knew that South Alabama and UT Arlington were going to make a run at us today. Our guys never got flustered and just continue to play their games. At the end of the day, it worked.”
Stephenson finished at 5-under par, making three birdies on the back nine, but the one at No. 18 proved to be the most important.
Grey finished tied for fifth at 3-under following a final-round 72. The sophomore, who earned Sun Belt Freshman-of-the-Year and all-conference first team honors last year, two-putted from 12-feet on the last hole to secure the one-stroke win.
Junior Davin White, who earned All-Sun Belt Second Team honors last year, shot a final-round 1-under 71 to finish tied for 14th at 4-over. After turning at 2-over, White made three birdies on the back nine, including one on the 18th hole.
Senior Tyler Gruca shot a final-round 3-over 75 to finish tied for 19th at 5-over. Freshman Nathan Mallonee rounded out the Panthers line-up with a 79 on Wednesday to tie for 34th at 11-over.
South Alabama shot a final-round 8-under 280 to finish one stroke behind the Panthers. UT Arlington shot a final-round 1-under 287 to finish third. UL Lafayette shot 7-under on Wednesday to finish fourth at 12-over with Texas State finishing fifth at 20-over.
Texas State’s Stuart Smallwood finished at 8-under par with a final-round 72 to earn low medalist honors. Stephenson finished tied for second with South Alabama’s Tyler Klava at 5-under. UL Lafayette’s Fernando Cruz Valle finished fourth at 4-under. Grey finished tied for fifth at with UL Lafayette’s Thomas Strandemo at 3-under.
Over the last 17 years, the Panthers have now won seven conference championships and had seven runner-up finishes, including one in each of the last two years.
Georgia State will return to the course for NCAA Regional play, May 15-17, at one of six locations throughout the country. The top five teams at each regional site will advance to the NCAA Championship, May 23-28, in Hutchinson, Kan.