By Christian Malone
VALDOSTA -- Rollins and Central Oklahoma left the Kinderlou Forest Golf Club as happy teams Wednesday afternoon.
Rollins culminated a dominating three-day performance with the South Regional championship, while Central Oklahoma came away with the South Central Regional championship Wednesday.
"This is a huge deal," Rollins head coach Kyle Frakes said. "This is one of the biggest wins in our golf history. We're excited. We're going to enjoy this and have some fun with it."
"It's huge to win a regional," Central Oklahoma head coach Dan Johnston said. "We won the regional two years ago in Alabama, and to win it is a big deal because the teams are so even. To showcase our talent with the guys in the South, that made it even better."
Rollins pretty much led the South Regional from start to finish, building a six-stroke lead after Day 1 and a 10-stroke lead heading into Wednesday. The Tars then went out and shot the second-best score of the day, a 295, and walked off the golf course with a 15-stroke victory.
"We played smart all day long, and we aggressively went after conservative positions," Frakes said. "We tried not to shoot ourselves in the foot. We had a nice cushion, and... we just tried to push the right buttons, and not have any disasters.
"Great playing by our guys. When you win this region, you can be in the hunt to win the whole thing. The South and South Central are two of the strongest regions."
In winning the tournament, the Tars never had to count a score higher than 75.
"I believe that's the first time that's happened in my (eight-year) career here," Frakes said.
Rollins had clearly the deepest team in town. All five players finished in the top 12. Daniel Laughlin took third at 217, Dan Walters tied for fourth at 218, Andrew Pranger tied for ninth (221) and Darren Lundgren and Tim Aquaviva tied for 12th (222).
Central Oklahoma, meanwhile, had held a four-stroke lead after the second round, and went out Wednesday and wrapped up the title with a 296.
"We worked the entire year, and it came down to nine holes. We just played tremendous the last nine holes, and we're going to Savannah," Johnston said. "We can't wait to come back to Georgia in two weeks."
Central Oklahoma was led by Chris Hutson, who tied for second with a 221, and Donnie Martin, who tied for fourth at 222. Sam Proal and Todd Dayton tied for eighth (224), while Matt Ellis tied for 14th (226).
"Our No. 1 guy (Dayton), who is ranked second in the country and has been our horse all year, had a bad day, shot a 77. But the other four guys stepped up, and I think that makes it even more sweet" Johnston said. "We're going to enjoy this victory all the way back to Oklahoma."
Both Rollins and Central Oklahoma earned automatic berths to the national tournament two weeks from now in Savannah. Three other teams also earned berths to nationals, by having the lowest remaining scores from the two regionals: Delta State (885), Lynn (889) and St. Edwards (290).
Brad Conner of North Alabama also walked away very happy, as South Region individual champion. Conner had taken the lead with a first-day 68, and never yielded that lead. He wrapped up the individual title with a final-round 70, the second-best score of the day.
The South Central champion was Tyler Duncan of St. Edwards, who carded a 69 Wednesday that moved him from tied for fifth to the regional champion by four strokes (217).
Valdosta State had one of the best team scores of the day, a 298, but it wasn't enough to propel them into contention. The Blazers finished seventh at 898.
"We did shoot one of the lowest scores of the day, which is nice. But we wanted to go to Savannah," VSU head coach Jared Purvis said. "Our season's over, and now we've got to start working towards next year. I'm happy for the guys; I just wish we were still playing."
Spencer Provow wound up tying for sixth, at 219. Provow closed with a 72 Wednesday. Matt Wiley, a senior playing his final tournament, shot a 73 for the second day in a row and wound up tying for 19th at 224. Josh Tompkins tied for 29th at 228, Kevin Dutkowsky tied for 31st at 229, and Brian Hurtak tied for 39th with a 232.
"Spencer played well. Wiley had another good round, and it was nice to see him birdie his final hole," Purvis said.
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