Consistency was the name of the game for McKendree University junior and Collinsville High School graduate Keenai Sampson, who recorded a top-20 finish on the final individual leaderboard for the 2017 NCAA Division II Men’s Golf Championship.
The 108 competitors, which included 20 teams and eight individual golfers, closed out 54 holes of stroke play on Wednesday at Reunion Resort in Kissimmee, Fla.
Battling windy conditions while playing on the Watson Course at Reunion Resort, Sampson began his final round on the 18th hole at the shotgun start. After opening with a bogey, Sampson rebounded over his front nine to post a pair of birdies, which came on the second and eighth holes.
On the final nine holes of competition, he carded three bogeys to end his day two-over par. That gave Sampson his third consecutive round of 72 for the tournament and a top-20 finish in his first trip to the NCAA Division II Championship. Sampson is also the first McKendree golfer – male or female – to compete in the NCAA finals.
In addition to his lofty finish, Sampson had the second-best score of the eight individuals who qualified for the NCAA Division II Championship through regional play two weeks ago. Sampson was just one stroke behind D.J. Vogt of Bellarmine University, who closed the event with a score of 215, which was 5-over par.
Chandler Blanchet from the University of West Florida was the lone golfer in the field to finish under par for the tournament, claiming first place at -1. The individual leader for the first two rounds, John Coultas from Florida Southern College, was the runner-up at even par.
In the team standings, Barry University finished first at 850 (+10) to earn the top seed in the eight-team match play format that begins Thursday morning.