Johnson City, Tenn. -- The East Tennessee State mens golf team had four players shoot under 70 for the second consecutive day to win their fourth straight Southern Conference Mens Golf Championship >from Chattanooga Golf and Country Club in Chattanooga, Tenn.
The 14th-ranked Buccaneers shot an 11-under par 269 in the final round, the best round score in ETSU history. The Buccaneers shot a three-round total of 831 (287-275-269, -9) to outdistance second-place College of Charleston by 19 strokes.
Senior Pat Beste was the top Buccaneer finisher, shooting a three-round 205 (70-67-68, -5) to finish in second. Beste was striving for his second consecutive SoCon individual championship, but fell to Woffords William McGirt on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff.
"I was very proud of our team," said Beste. "We shot the two lowest rounds of our season in the last two days."
Seventh-ranked senior Chris Wisler finished in third place (73-69-65=207, -3) after turning in a final-round 65, the lowest round of the tournament. The 65 is one stroke off of his ETSU record 64 that he achieved in the first round of the Rolex/Golf World Invitational on Nov. 5, 2000. The third place finish is Wislers fourth consecutive top 10 finish, the seventh of the season and the 19th of her career.
Sophomore James Johnson finished in fourth, tying his career best (72-69-67=208, -2). Johnsons final-round 67 was the best of his ETSU career. Fellow sophomore Thomas Lee recorded his fourth straight top 20 finish, ending the tournament in 12th at 3-over par (72-70-71=213). Sophomore Adam Riddering was the final Buccaneer finisher, tying for 21st (73-75-69=217, +7) after tying his career-best with a final-round 69.
"We took a commanding lead after playing solid golf in the final two days," said ETSU head coach Fred Warren. "The final round may be the best round of golf I have seen as a coach."
Many individual and team milestones were set with the 2001 Southern Conference championship. Wisler is only the second golfer in ETSU history to play on four consecutive Southern Conference championship teams. Wisler has played on championship teams in each of the last eight years, as he led his Dover High School teams to four consecutive Delaware State High School Championships.
Beste and McGirts three-round totals of 205 are the second-best scores in a Southern Conference Championship. Steve Munson of ETSU and Brad Faxon of Furman also went to a sudden-death playoff after shooting matching 203s in the 1982 SoCon championship from Charlotte, N.C.
The championship marks ETSUs 16th Southern Conference mens golf title, the most of any Buccaneer sport. ETSU has claimed 11 of the last 13 SoCon titles, all 11 coming under Warren.
The SoCon mens golf awards were also announced following the final round of play. Wisler won his second consecutive Southern Conference Player-of-the-Year award. Wisler and Beste were also named to the eight-member All-Southern Conference Team.
The Bucs have clinched an NCAA Regional berth, but the participants in the individual regionals will not be announced until May 8. The regionals will be held on May 17-19. The NCAA Championship will be held on May 30-June 8 in Durham, N.C.
East Tennessee State will return to action on May 13 in the Cavalier Classic in Charlottesville, Va.
1. ETSU 287-275-269--831 (-9)
2. College of Charleston 286-287-277--850 (+10)
3. Georgia Southern 296-286-275--857 (+17)
1. William McGirt (Wofford) 68-70-67--205 (-5)*
2. Pat Beste (ETSU) 70-67-68--205 (-5)
3. Chris Wisler (ETSU) 73-69-65--207 (-3)
4. James Johnson (ETSU) 72-69-67--208 (-2)
12. Thomas Lee (ETSU) 72-70-71--213 (+3)
T21. Adam Riddering (ETSU) 73-75-69--217 (+7)
*-McGirt won on first hole of a sudden-death playoff