“This is huge for us,” said Mike Cook, Coastal Georgia head coach. “To win our first-ever NAIA title really means a lot. We’ve got two seniors that played a key role in this team.”
The Mariners, who first joined the NAIA in the 2012-13 school year, overcame a six-hole deficit in the final round with a 4-under-par 284 – the only team under par in the final round. Coastal Georgia led after round one with a 285, however struggled in the afternoon session of day two, dropping to third at 5-over-par as a team. Allen Bradford paced the team all week, finishing fourth in the individual race at 213 (70-74-69). Bradford played his best in the third round, carding a 3-under-par 69 that included birdies on holes No. 1, 9, 11, 13 and 16. For the championship, Bradford finished with 10 birdies.
In addition to Bradford, Dylan Freeman and Chase Miller posted top 25 finishes. Freeman carded a 216 (70-73-73), while Miller shot 219 (75-74-70), including 2-under-par 70 on the final round.
Oklahoma City’s James Marchesani took home the O.D. Bounds National Medalist trophy after defeating Jay Monahan of Grand View (Iowa) in a playoff. Marchesani forced the extra hole with a birdie on the final hole – the toughest of the round for the field. He then repeated the feat and sealed his final collegiate event with a 3-foot birdie putt.
“We come here as a team and win as a team, unfortunately it didn’t go that way this week,” said Marchesani. “However, winning the individual medal feels pretty nice. I had a big year, which makes it pretty special. It’s a little different feeling than the team title, however the individual title is a nice cap to the year.”
Marchesani is the fifth golfer in Oklahoma City history to win the individual championship.
Oklahoma City finished second in the team standings with a combined score of 869 (287-294-288). Johnson & Wales (Fla.) and William Woods (Mo.) finished tied for third place at 874. The Wildcats carded a pair of 292’s en route to the finish, while the Owls recovered from a second round 296 with a 289 in the third and final round.
This year’s championships concluded with an awards ceremony that included the announcement of Mike Cook of Coastal Georgia as the NAIA Coach of the Year and the all-tournament team. The all-tournament team consists of the top 15 individuals.
This year’s championships were shortened to 54 holes from its original 72 due to inclement weather and course conditions on Thursday. The last time a national champion was crowned in 54 holes came in 2002 when Oklahoma City edged Berry (Ga.) by four strokes.
For more information on the NAIA Men’s Golf National Championships, click here.
2014 NAIA Men’s Golf Coach of the Year: Mike Cook, Coastal Georgia
2014 NAIA Men’s Golf National Championships All-Tournament Team
James Marchesani, Oklahoma City
Jay Monahan, Grand View (Iowa)
Jose Pablo Rolz, Texas Wesleyan
Allen Bradford, Coastal Georgia
Justin Doeden, Cardinal Stritch (Wis.)
Josh Wheeler, Tennessee Wesleyan
Jesse Heinly, Concordia (Ore.)
Mateo Gomez, Oklahoma Baptist
Matthew Cheung, Oklahoma City
Richard Le, St. Thomas (Texas)
Daniel Jansen, Faulkner (Ala.)
Julian Taylor, William Woods (Mo.)
Jack Wood, British Columbia
Ben Johnson, Bethany (Kan.)
Dylan Freeman, Coastal Georgia