DELAND, FLA -- The USC Aiken Pacers fired a final-round 298 to win their first Division II men's golf National Championship on Saturday at the Victoria Hills Golf Club in DeLand. The Pacers fought off Chico State and Barry in the final round to win by nine strokes after opening the round with a one-stroke lead. The national championship is the first for USC Aiken in any sport and the third for the Peach Belt Conference this season.
"This has been 14 years coming," said USCA head coach Mike Carlisle. "We feel like we probably should have two or three times before this, but this is a hard goal to achieve and I'm just so happy for our players and those who came down here to support us."
Chico State's J.J. Jakovac won the individual title after firing a final-round 73 to finish the tournament with a one-under-par 287. Jakovac also won the title in 2002, becoming only the third player in Division II history to win two individual national championships.
"I played really solid on the front nine when it started raining on us, I shot a 35 which I thought was really good since it was raining hard for awhile. On the back nine I just wanted to make par, cruise in. It was really special to win my sophomore year (2002) but even more so this year because I was here with the team and that makes it more special."
Jakovac was six strokes ahead of Barton College's Courtney Faircloth and CSU-Stanislaus's Ryan Thornberry who both finished at 293. The top 10 players were presented individual awards after the team.
USC Aiken opened the day just one stroke ahead of Barry and two strokes ahead of Chico State. Scott Brown and Dane Burkhart both fired one-over-par 73's while Clint Smith had a 75 and James McGhee a 77. After Jakovac's 73, Chico State's next lowest score was a 76 from Marc Peterson. Barry's James Bowery fired a one-under 71, one of only three rounds under par on the day, but the Buccaneers' next lowest score was Ryan Lamond's 77.
"We were very fortunate today, you could play the same situation tomorrow and another team would win," said Carlisle. "There are a lot of good, quality teams in this tournament and to be able to win this tournament against such good teams just makes it all that much better."