It was another case of so near and yet so far for the University of Redlands golf team as the Bulldogs finished second at the Division III national tournament at Chateau Elon Resort in Braselton, Ga. Friday.
The Bulldogs did not qualify for the event last year but posted three straight second-place showings in 2004, 2005 and 2006.
Redlands shot a 14-over 298 to finish with a 72-hole total of 1,195. St. John Fisher, which started the day with a four-stroke lead over Redlands, carded a 22-over 306 and was third at 1,199.
But it was St. John (Minn.), fourth at the start of the day, that came from eight strokes out with a 291 to finish at 1,192.
The recent finish was a bit more disappointing because the Bulldogs had the lead, only to falter on the final three holes. Redlands made up the deficit on St. John Fisher in the first six holes and led until the final three holes, losing seven strokes on the last three.
Ross Canavan was the top individual for the Bulldogs, shooting a 2-over 73 for a 9-over 293 total. E.J. Stenftenagel tied for 10th (75-297).
The player that made the big difference for a third straight day was Alex Hedlund. Normally the No. 5 player, he had a 2-over 73 and was 23rd overall (302).
Scott Pena and J.C. Riter had indentical 77s and both finished at 311.
The University of La Verne, which beat Redlands head-to-head eight times this season, settled for ninth (1,219) in the last match for retiring coach Rex Huigens.
The Leopards had most of its returners from last year’s national runner-up team and led after the first round. But nothing went right the last three days.
“Golf can be a fickle game,” Huigens said. “We had a good first day but after that we were terrible, no other way to put it.”
Junior Rizal Amin (74-302) was the top finisher for the Leopards in 23rd. He was followed by Mitchell Fedorka (78-305), Chris Davis (83-309), Andrew Kramer (79-311) and Jordan Talah (76-314)
Huigens said he will miss the camaraderie of his players.
“Any time you do something for that long, it will be a little emotional when you stop doing it,” he said. “But the relationships will go on.”