LOCAL COLLEGE GOLF ROUNDUP: Darton's Tuten wins medalist in Valdosta; Cavs finish T-3rd as team; GSW golf wins third tourney

Shad Tuten closed with a 66 on Tuesday to in Valdosta to win medalist for Darton, which finished tied for third as a team.

Shad Tuten closed with a 66 on Tuesday to in Valdosta to win medalist for Darton, which finished tied for third as a team.

VALDOSTA -- Darton sophomore Shad Tuten stood on the 14th tee in Tuesday's final round of the two-day Thomas University Invitational with a comfortable individual lead.

But Darton's No. 1 golfer wanted more.

"I thought, 'All right if I can birdie this hole, I have a pretty good shot of winning this tourney,' " Tuten said.

Three shots later, Tuten walked off the No. 14 green at the Kinderlou Forest Golf Club with that birdie.

It was just that kind of day for Tuten, where nothing went wrong and he cruised to a 6-under 66, finishing the tournament as the individual champion with a two-day total of 136.

"I have never had that feeling of winning a tournament with so many good players in it," said Tuten, whose rounds of 66 and 70 put him five shots ahead of the second-place finisher. "It was kind of surreal for me. I have won golf tournaments in the past, but I have never won any tournament with this much significance."

It was a pretty good day for the rest of the Cavs, too. After shooting a disappointing 300 on Monday and giving themselves virtually no shot at winning the tournament, Darton bounced back with a 280, which was the low round of the tournament among the 12 teams. The Cavs, who started Tuesday 11 shots behind Shorter College, climbed all the way to a tie for third place and finished seven shots behind team champion South Carolina-Beaufort.

Shorter College finished one shot ahead of Darton for second place, while Southeastern University tied for third with Darton.

Darton's top four golfers improved on their Day 1 scores. Sophomore Joe Sakulpolphaisan fired a 71, while freshmen Neil Graham and Austin McNeil -- who are both from Douglas -- shot 71 and 72, respectively.

Darton first-year coach Bill Jones III, who was "surprised" and "disappointed" in Monday's round, said his guys were able to take advantage of perfect course conditions and nice weather Tuesday.

"They came out that first round and made a lot of freshmen mistakes," Jones said. "Our 3-4-5 guys didn't play well for us at all. We pulled everybody into a room and talked to them and told them the Nos. 1 and 2 guys needed some help.

"Coach (Dale) Dover and I are really proud of the way they came back. It was a really good lesson for them to learn how important the first round is."

Also for the Cavs, freshmen Chase Jones and Robert Robertson played as individuals, shooting 77 and 81, respectively.

GSW GOLF WINS AGAIN: The Georgia Southwestern golf team saved its best play for the final round, firing the only under-par team score Tuesday at the Country Club of Columbus and grabbing its third title of the season at the 17-team Aflac/Cougar Invitational. The win marked the Hurricanes' third win in just four tournaments played so far this fall season.

GSW started Day 2 six strokes behind third-ranked Lynn University and four shots behind No. 4 Barry University.

It wasn't until the final nine holes where the 'Canes were able to jump past Lynn. From there, GSW kept its foot on the gas en route to a five-stroke victory.

At No. 24 in the country, GSW was ranked lower than 10 teams in the loaded field. In fact, only two teams in the tournament did not at least receive votes in the latest Golf World/Nike Golf NCAA Division II Coaches' Poll.

Individually, the Hurricanes couldn't have finished much better, grabbing the top three spots in the 90-player field. Senior Craig Gibson led the Hurricane onslaught and earned individual medalist honors with a 2-under 211.

Nipping at Gibson's heels were teammates Chris Hall (212) and J.P. Griffin (213). Hall, a senior, was solid on Tuesday as he was one of only four golfers in the field to shoot under par. Griffin played the final eight holes 5-under, jumped 25 spots in the standings and the junior's final-round 66 tied the low round of the tournament.

Junior Nate Gahman, a Lee County grad and former Herald Player of the Year, was steady down the stretch (75-74-71) and tied for 21st -- up 19 spots from Monday -- and freshman Chris Campos carded a 245 (82-78-85).