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Grand View is crowned the champion of the 2017 NAIA Men's Golf National Championship

May 19, 2017
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SILVIS, Ill. -- (Player/Team) Grand View came from 13 shots back over the final round to overtake Cardinal Stritch and win the 2017 NAIA Men's Golf National Championship Friday at TPC Deere Run.

The Vikings closed with an 11-over 295 to pass the Wolves and win their first men's golf national title. GVU finished with an 1197 (296-315-291-295) to defeat Cardinal Stritch by five shots. The Wolves ended with a 1202 (289-306-294-313).

While Grand View prevented Cardinal Stritch from leading wire-to-wire, freshman Rowan Lester from Texas Wesleyan did just that to claim the individual title.

Lester grabbed a share of the lead with a first-round 2-under 69 and never surrendered it. 

Junior Ben Kendrick from the Cumberlands made a third-round charge to get within a single shot entering Friday's play. Kendrick had the first tee time of the morning and carded a 76 to close with a 290. Lester came in with a 74 to win by three shots with a 3-over 287.

"It was similar to yesterday," Lester said. "I didn't play that well but I chipped and putted amazingly. From No. 9 to 14, I think I had four one-putts and many of those were for par. That kept me in it. I stuck to what I could hit well and my putting was just amazing all week."

Lester held off Kendrick and Myles Pfingsten, who spearheaded Grand View's charge to the national title. After shooting a second-round 80, the senior fired a 4-under 67 Thursday and closed with a 1-under 70 to finish third overall with a 292.

Pfingsten's play helped the Vikings trim the Wolves' 13-shot lead entering the final round to just six strokes after both teams were through six holes. GVU took the lead at the turn and played from in front from there despite heavy rain early and temperatures staying in the 40s.

"It's just unbelievable," Pfingsten said following his round. "We worked so hard and I just can't believe it. It's fantastic. I am so grateful."

Grand View coach Chris Winkel echoed those sentiments.

"Quite honestly, this is beyond belief. It is seriously beyond belief," said the Vikings' coach. "Every year we talk about competing for a National Championship and that goal sits out there and you think about it but you don't really believe it could happen. Now I'm here enjoying the fact that we're National Champions."

Myles' brother Mitch Pfingsten shot an even-par 71 Friday to finish sixth overall individually and overshadow a tremendous performance from a Cardinal Stritch team that led for three rounds after starting play with a 289.

Texas Wesleyan, which entered Friday tied for second with Grand View, finished third with a 1205. Dalton State and William Woods tied for fourth place.

The top 15 individuals were named to the all-tournament team.

2017 NAIA Men's Golf National Championship All-Tournament Team:

Rowan Lester, Texas Wesleyan
Ben Kendrick, Cumberlands
Myles Pfingsten, Grand View
S.M. Lee, Dalton State
Alec Dutkowski, Taylor
Mitch Pfingsten, Grand View
Billy McKenzie, William Woods
Cameron Moralee, Keiser
David Ravetto, Texas Wesleyan
Carlos Ardila, Southeastern
Justin Pahl, Madonna
Andrew Williamson, Wayland Baptist
Rupert Kaminski, Oklahoma City
Domenick Postorino, Arizona Christian
Johnnie Greco, William Jessup