March 14, 2010
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida State's Seath Lauer and Wesley Graham led Sunday's winning charge to the Seminole Intercollegiate tournament championship in a suspense-filled finish at Southwood Golf Course.
The Seminoles won their third tournament of the school year, slipping past South Carolina by a one-stroke margin after top-ranked golfer Brooks Koepka was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard, negating what would have been a nine-shot victory.
Florida State had already secured the team title - its second Seminole Intercollegiate in three seasons - when South Carolina's Paul Woodbury outlasted Lauer with on the fourth playoff hole. Lauer, the Seminoles' senior captain, shared low-stroke honors with Woodbury at 1-under, 212 after 54 holes. Woodbury won with a par on the 427-yard 18th hole; the fourth time the duo traversed the par-four finishing hole.
In total, the three-day affair hosted by Southwood for the first time in the tournament's lengthy history, was a wild ride of emotions for FSU coach Trey Jones and the Seminoles.
"I saw a seven-shot lead go to one and just a tough day on the golf course (Saturday)," Jones said. "I challenged the guys last night and all I told them was, `You can't play defense in this sport. Make somebody beat you tomorrow. Don't let anybody walk out of this town with our trophy just because we didn't come ready to play.'
"I can't say how happy I am with how they came out today from the start and they played all the way through."
The Seminoles opened the final round precariously clinging to a one-shot lead over ninth-ranked South Carolina, which trailed FSU by 10 strokes after the opening round but mounted a charge during Saturday's blustery second round conditions. Despite an individual medalist Woodbury, the Gamecocks could not cut into the Seminoles' lead over the final 18 holes.
Lauer had a lot to do with that, posting a final-round, 1-under 70 for his first career finish atop the leaderboard after 54 holes.
"I played the final four holes (of regulation) like I knew I had a chance, which I did," said Lauer, who matched his best career finish following the playoff setback. "It's a good learning experience. A four-hole playoff is not the most fun thing to do, but to put myself in position to win again is a good feeling. I didn't feel really good about my golf game going in but I got really motivated the day before (the tournament) and I came in with a better mindset."
So did sophomore Wesley Graham, who got off to a stunning eagle-birdie-birdie start, on the way to a final-round 68 that tied him for the low round of the day and was worth a share of third place.
"I was kind of in the zone the whole day," Graham said. "The first three holes I didn't hit a bad golf shot - perfect shots, perfect putts - and everything was going in. It was a pretty amazing start."
Koepka was on pace to join his teammates at the top of the leaderboard until his ill-fated scoring error, but the Seminoles were able to overcome the mistake as Drew Kittleson recovered from three bogeys over the first four holes to shoot 73 and tie for 20th. Kittleson played the final 14 holes at 1-under par.
Freshman Michael Hebert carded a 78 on Sunday and factored into the scoring, finished tied for 38th in the 75-player field.
"The team played great," said Lauer. "I really feel good about that, especially for the future.
"This is just a strong group. We wanted to win this golf tournament. We didn't want to win it by a small margin. This is our home golf course and we wanted to show it's our home golf course. I think (Saturday) was a little slap in the face to our whole team and it kind of made us wake up a little bit. Everybody's composure looked really good, especially at the start of the day. I could just tell we were going to play well."
So did Jones, who likes the trend his team is developing, with another strong final round finish.
"When the guys are around the lead, they know what to do," said Jones. "Golf is a sport you don't get to win as much. If you get two wins in a year on the PGA Tour, that's a great year."
To get their third win of the year - under testy conditions, in the face of adversity, against a solid field and at their home course - in early March, has the Seminoles pointing in a special direction.