WATERTOWN, Conn. - - Needing pressure putt down the stretch, the Wilmington University golf team holed birdies on 17 and 18 to climb back and tie Goldey-Beacom in the final round of the 2021 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Championship on Tuesday afternoon at the Watertown Golf Club.
Coming down to the team tiebreaker rules, the Wildcats claimed the Championship with their dropped score being lower than Goldey-Beacom's dropped score. It is the 10th CACC Championship for the Wildcats since the spring of 2011. They only lost one CACC Championship they've competed in since 2011, and didn't compete in the 2021 Spring Championship last season.
Trailing the Lightning by four strokes late in the day, Matthew Pulgini first sank a birdie putt on the par four 17th, and then teammate Tyler Cleaves came right behind him and hit another birdie putt to give the Wildcats a chance. Now on the final hole, each of the Lightning players finished with pars, so the Wildcats knew what needed to be done to tie the match. Pulgini again birdied 18 and then Cleaves came up clutch with the team's fourth straight birdie to end the round with a 292 (+8) and erase the two-stroke deficit after the first round.
In NCAA Division II golf, five players from each team play a full 18 holes. Only the best four rounds count towards the team score. The team tiebreaker looks at the fifth score to determine a winner. Goldey-Beacom dropped an 84 (+13) while the Wildcats dropped an 80 (+9), giving the tiebreaker and the Championship to the Wildcats.
Matthew Pulgini led the Wildcats with rounds of 72-72 for a 144 (+2). He finished second overall, two strokes off the leader from Goldey-Beacom, Hunter McGee. Pulgini had a bidie on the par-four 11th, but bogeys on 12 and 15 had him at three-over par before his birdies on 17 and 18. He was tied for the tournament lead with six birdies and on Par 4 Scoring, shooting one-over for the tournament.
Tyler Cleaves finished in a tie for fourth overall with rounds of 74-72 for a 146 (+4). All his action came on the back-nine on Tuesday, as he bogeyed the 10th, 12th, and 14th holes before his birdies on 17 and 18. He led the tournament with Pulgini on Par 4 Scoring at one-over par and was third overall on Par 3 Scoring at one-over par. His five birdies was tied for fifth while his 24 pars was tied for third.
Inserted into action at the last minute on Monday, Jan Lekes finished tied for 13th overall with scored of 78-74 for a 152 (+10). He birdied the par five first on Tuesday but finished two-over on the front nine. He sank birdies on the par-four 10th and par-four 11th to get back to even, but a double on 13 and a bogey on 15 pushed him back to three-over par. Lekes was tied for ninth overall on Par 5 Scoring at one-under par while being tied for fifth with 23 pars.
Nathan Potts closed out the Wilmington scoring on Tuesday with a 74, finishing the tournament in 15th overall with rounds of 79-74 for a 153 (+11). Potts got back to even with a birdie on the par-three third and then got back to one-over par with a birdie on the par-four 11th, but a double on 13 pushed him back to three-over for the day. He had pars on his final five holes to help the Wildcats to the tie. Potts finished tied for fourth in the tournament on Par 3 Scoring, finishing at two-over par on all the par three holes.
Pablo Quintero finished 22nd overall with rounds of 78-80 for a 158 (+16). He got back to five-over par with a birdie on the par-four 12th, but a double on 16 pushed him back to nine-over. He finished his round strong with a birdie on the par-four 18th, and it paid off for the Wildcats as they ended up needing his score on Tuesday as well.