Barton captures Super Regional Preview event

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CONOVER — The Barton College men’s golf team celebrated a 2017 fall-season milestone Tuesday by seizing the championship of the NCAA Division II South/Southeast Super Regional Preview over the par-72, 6,700-yard Rock Barn Resort and Spa layout.

The Bulldogs entered the final round out front by five shots in the 17-team field and stayed there with a sizzling 6-under-par 282 for its low four individuals. With a 572 total for 36 holes, Barton prevailed by six shots against NCAA Div. II Conference Carolinas rival Belmont Abbey and finished 11 shots out front of fourth-place Lincoln Memorial University, which was preseason-ranked No. 21 nationally. Lincoln Memorial came into the final round in the No. 2 spot.

Barton was again paced by the pair of freshman Bryson Boyette and junior Justin Plane. Boyette, a product of Fike High and the 2017 North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A individual champion, added a 72 to his opening 68, while Plane fired a second successive 70.

With 140 totals, Boyette and Plane tied for second place in the 85-player field. Boyette headed into the final 18 holes with a two-shot advantage against Plane, but Belmont Abbey’s Nick Stafford, the reigning Conference Carolinas Golfer of the Year, scorched the layout with a 9-under 63 in seizing the individual title.

“We just wanted to go out and take care of business today,” said elated Barton head coach Ashley Leonard.”We wanted to really focus on just playing our golf, not worrying about what everyone else around us was doing. In the past, we’ve gotten caught up in that a little bit. We just tried to keep our mind on playing the best we could play.”

In the final round, the Bulldogs counted rounds of 2-under-70 from Plane, junior Logan Zimarino and junior Scott Pechacek as well as Boyette’s 72. Senior Travis Broome carded a 75.

“The coolest part was when they all started coming in, talking about what they had shot ... and seeing the pure joy and excitement in them,” Leonard commented. “That’s what it is about. Every day that goes by, they believe more and more in themselves. It’s fun to watch and it’s fun to see them play golf.”

Boyette settled for his first career runner-up finish and third top-15 in four collegiate starts. Plane finished a runner-up for the fourth time in his career and notched his sixth top-five showing. Boyette and Plane each earned all-tournament acclaim.

Zimarino added his second career top-10 finish, tying for ninth place at 144 (74-70). Broome shared the 55th spot at 78-75—153. At 89-70—159, Pechacek deadlocked for 72nd.

“Bryson finished birdie-birdie to get to even par today, which was huge for us,” Leonard noted. “Justin played well with another under-par round. Logan played his butt off this week. And obviously, to see Scott bounce back from a disappointing round (Monday) to shoot 70 today probably was the difference-maker for us in the winning the tournament.

“It was just a great team effort.”

The tournament provided the 17 teams with an early look at the course on which the NCAA Division II South/Southeast Super Regional will be contested next May.

“With a win this week, we put ourselves in a good position regionally,” Leonard declared. “It was exciting. We’ll enjoy this a day or two; then, we’ll get back to work on Thursday.”