Conference Champions: Hawks win first USA South title by 26 strokes

The Huntingdon men's golf team captured its first USA South Conference Tournament title with a 23-under 841 in three rounds. (Photo submitted)
The Huntingdon men's golf team captured its first USA South Conference Tournament title with a 23-under 841 in three rounds. (Photo submitted)

LAGRANGE, Ga. – The Huntingdon men's golf team completed a dominant performance in the conference tournament with its first USA South championship on Saturday.

In their sixth season in the USA South, the Hawks led in all three rounds, won the team title by 26 strokes, earned individual medalist (Drew Mathers) and second-place (Stephen Shephard) honors and placed four golfers (Mathers, Shephard, Carson Whitton and Henry Gee) in the top-seven.

The second-ranked Hawks shot 3-under-par 285 in the final round and 23-under 841 for the tournament. The three-round total set a new NCAA-era record for the Hawks.

The win was the fifth of the season for the Hawks and the fourth in the last five tournaments. The five wins are tied for the second most in a season by Huntingdon during the NCAA era.

Methodist was second with a 3-over 867 and North Carolina Wesleyan was third with a 15-over 879.

Mathers, the second ranked golfer in Division III, won his first conference title with an 11-under 205 in three rounds, shooting a 5-under 67 in the first round and a 3-under 69 in the second round and the third round.

The junior's 205 is the best three-round total in the USA South Tournament since the conference tournament expanded to three rounds in 2009 and is tied for the second best 54-hole total for the Hawks during the NCAA era.

The win was Mathers' third of the season, setting a new NCAA-era program record for Huntingdon. In his last five tournaments, Mathers has three wins and two second-place finishes. His four career wins are tied with Shephard and former Hawk Addison Lambeth for the second most during the NCAA era.

Shephard, the third-ranked golfer in Division III, placed second with a 5-under 211. The senior shot a 3-under 69 in the both the first and second round and a 1-over 73 in the final round. In the past three seasons, Shephard has placed second in the conference tournament twice and finished in the top-four each season.

Whitton finished 10 strokes out of first and tied for sixth with a 1-under 215 and Gee was one stroke behind Whitton and tied for seventh with an even-par 216.

A freshman, Whitton shot an even-par 72 in each of the first two rounds and a 1-under 71 on Saturday. Gee closed the conference tournament with an even-par 72 in the final round. The senior shot a 3-over 75 in the first round and a 3-under 69 in the second round. 

Senior Mark Connelly tied for 16th with a 5-over 221. Connelly shot a 3-under 69 in the first round, a 2-over 74 in the second round and a 6-over 78 in the final round.