LUBBOCK, Texas — Darton golf coach Bill Jones III would love to forget about the Cavs’ worst finish in a national championship in a decade.
But it’s a long drive back from west Texas, and the trip will likely seem even longer after the Cavs limped in with a 297 in Friday’s final round of the NJCAA national tournament to finish 12th in the 24-team field.
Darton, which has turned into a nationally-renowned junior college program, finished outside of the Top 10 at nationals for the first time in 10 years and outside of the Top 5 since making the move to Division I two years ago.
It caps a season — and a four-day tournament — where the Cavs failed to meet expectations.
“(Friday) was about the same as every other day (at nationals). Actually, it was probably a little worse,” Jones said. “After looking at it, we must not have been as good as we thought we were.
“It blows my mind that we have been this bad all year and haven’t gotten much better. Part of that might be my fault for not forcing them to not work on their short games as much as I asked them to. Or maybe they just weren’t strong enough mentally to get through this week.”
Central Alabama overtook third-round leader Odessa College to win the team title by a single stroke at 2-under.
The Cavs finished 31 shots back at 29-over.
“I would love to forget about this, but I don’t think that’s possible,” Jones said. “It’s on the guys now. (Darton Director of Golf Dale Dover) and I worked our tails off this week and all year. We have never worked so hard and gotten so little out of it.”
Darton sophomore Nick Green had the team’s best finish at 3-over, which put him in a tie for 21st. But a 4-over 76 in his final round, which began with a quadruple-bogey on No. 1, cost him a chance to finish as an All-American.
“Nick hung in there and battled,” Jones said. “It wasn’t his day, but (Dover) and I were really proud of him. He was two or three shots away from being an All-American.”
Taylor Martin shot an even-par 72 to finish 6-over, Robert Robertson fired a 74 to finish 12-over, Taehyung Kim shot a 75 to finish 14-over and Parks Brown carded a 76 to finish 15-over.
The Cavs began Friday’s final round 18 shots out of the lead and in 11th place but got jumped on the leaderboard by Indian Hills Community College.
Meridian Community College’s T.J. Morgan and Wallace State’s Aksel Olsen tied atop the individual leaderboard at 7-under 281.