Darton State College freshman Parks Brown of Gainesville rips a drive down the fairway during the final round of the Doublegate Collegiate Invitational on Tuesday at Doublegate Country Club. Brown and the Cavs rallied on the final day to win. (David Mann/Darton State College)
ALBANY — Darton’s Parks Brown stood next to the scorer’s table, clutching the team trophy after Tuesday’s final round of the Doublegate Collegiate Invitational.
The only question now for the freshman golfer was simple: what to do with it?
“I don’t even know,” Brown said. “This is the first one we have won in a while. I’m not sure what we are doing with it.”
The Cavs overtook Wallace State during the final 18 holes and fired their second straight 292 to snap an 11-month winless streak and win the inaugural tournament at Doublegate by four strokes.
It was the first collegiate victory for more than half of Darton’s team, and Cavs coach Bill Jones III, who has been a part of dozens of victories as both a head coach, assistant coach and a one-time star player, has been waiting on the trophy for nearly a year.
“It will be somewhere where people can see it, that’s for sure,” Jones said.
It’s the first team title for the Cavs since the Region XVII tournament last March, and it was a victory the team desperately needed.
“This definitely takes the monkey off our backs and takes some pressure off of us,” Brown said. “We wanted a win badly, but this being our home (tournament) made us want it even more.”
Darton’s Taylor Martin was the lone golfer to shoot under par in both rounds of the 36-hole tournament, and the freshman from Braselton won the individual title by five strokes after following his opening-round 71 with a 3-under 69 on Tuesday. And while Tuesday’s win was the Cavs’ first as a team in some time, Martin’s victory is the second straight individual title for Darton after Nick Green won the low medalist at the Faulkner State Invitational last month.
“It feels great to finally win,” Martin said. “We have been working really hard in practice and working out in the mornings, so it’s good to see that hard work pay off. It gives us a lot more confidence heading into next week’s tournament (in Scottsboro, Ala.), so hopefully we can pull another one off.”
Martin finished with three birdies and no bogeys in Tuesday’s round to win his first tournament since joining the Cavs program last fall.
“When (Martin) picked up his trophy, I told him it would be the first of many,” Jones said. “This is what I brought him in to do. He is talented enough to do that, and we have known that all year.”
Brown (72-73), Wallace State’s Chris Atchley (68-77) and Tri County’s Laurent Oudenne (71-74) tied for second, while Darton’s Green (73-73), Wallace State’s Aksel Olsen (72-74) and USC Beaufort’s Andrew McCullough (73-73) tied for fifth.
Other Darton scores were Taehyung Kim (76-77) and Robert Robertson (76-78).
The Cavs entered Tuesday’s round six shots behind Wallace State, but Darton, the 7th-ranked team in NJCAA, quickly closed the gap and surged to the front during the opening nine. Darton gave a few shots back in the final holes with late bogeys from Kim and Green and a four-putt from Brown.
“A couple of our guys caught (their Wallace State opponents) early, and a couple of them were beating them pretty good,” Jones said. “But coming in we were not playing very well, and I think a lot of that was pressure that they really wanted to beat them.
“Even if we had lost, we needed to be in that situation where our nerves were playing a factor. They haven’t been nervous all year in the final three holes — because we hadn’t had anything to play for.”
The Cavs will have plenty to play for in the coming weeks, starting with next week’s Ron Marshall Spring Fling in Scottsboro, Ala., where many of the top NJCAA teams in the country will compete, including No. 2-ranked Central Alabama Community College, which finished third Tuesday with a two-round score of 595.
Team standings behind CACC were Tri County (600), USC Beaufort (607), ABAC (616), USC Lancaster (631), Gordon College (638) and Andrew College (653).
Andrew College freshman Timothy Blomdahl, a native of Sweden, had the shot of the tournament on the 15th hole Tuesday when he hit a rare albatross on the 510-yard par 5.
Blomdahl’s second shot from 240 yards out with a 3-wood rolled up the green and into the cup for the second double-eagle in the history of the hole.
“I hit a low fade that landed just in front of the green, bounced once and then rolled into the hole,” said Blomdahl, who shot a 74 on Tuesday to finish the tournament at 14-over 158 — Andrew’s top team score. “I threw my club and screamed. I couldn’t believe it was happening. I have hit a hole-in-one before, but this was better.”
Andrew and Darton will both compete in the Region XVII tournament in Tifton in April, and then the Cavs will head to Pendleton, S.C., for the District IV Championship, where they will need a Top 7 finish to qualify for a 12th straight trip to the national tournament.