CCU’s Ruiz makes playoff; Chants seventh at Sun Belt

ccugolf-ruiz2Coastal Carolina sophomore Luis Ruiz turned in the low round for the third round, shooting a 67, and jumped five spots to force a four-way playoff at the 2017 Sun Belt Championship, played at the par 71, 6,807-yard Sandestin Raven Golf Club.

Georgia Southern’s Steven Fisk birdied the first playoff hole (#18) to win the four-way playoff over Ruiz, Clay Vannoy (Troy) and Jake Storey (Georgia Southern). Ruiz bogeyed the playoff hole while Vannoy and Storey both had a par. Fisk had a bogey on his final round of regulation, while Vannoy and Storey each had two birdies coming down the stretch and Ruiz had a bogey-free, 3-under on his homeward nine to force the playoff. Each of the four in the playoff carded a 54-hole score of 3-under par 201 with Ruiz posting rounds of 71, 72 and 67.

Ruiz not only recorded his first career top 10 finish – technically placing fourth after the playoff, but he established career bests in score in relation to par for 54 holes (-3), low single round (67) and best 54-hole score (210) while matching his best 36-hole score (136).

Ruiz will wait to learn his fate later in terms of advancing to an NCAA Regional as the other three individuals in the playoff were with teams that have or will likely earn a bid to the postseason (Sun Belt champion Troy earned the automatic bid to the NCAA and Georgia Southern could receive an at-large bid for the postseason.)

Troy won the team stroke platy title by nine shots and will play Georgia State, which tied for third, in the match play semifinal Tuesday morning. Runner-up Georgia Southern will play third-place Arkansas State in the other match play semifinal Tuesday. The winners of the morning session will meet for the Sun Belt Championship, also match play format, Tuesday afternoon.

While Coastal finished seventh, it was just three shots from having a chance to advance to the match play portion of the Championship.

Ruiz, who started his second round along the rest of the field Sunday evening, finished his second round with a score of 1-over par 72 thanks to three birdies, two bogeys and a double. He opened the final round with birdies on two of his first three holes before dropping a shot on the par 3, 16th hole to make the turn at 1-under. He then had birdies on holes 1, 3 and 6 before finishing his round with thee pars to post his 4-under 67.

Olle Widegren shot a final round 73 and moved up five spots over the final 18 holes to finish in a tie for 28th, the senior’s best career finish at a conference championship. He finished with a 54-hole total of 221 (74-74-73), also his career best score at a championship.  Widegren turned in seven birdies for his final round.

Thadd Obecny II also made a final-round jump, moving up three spots into a tie for 35th with a score of 223 (72-78-73). Obecny, like Widegren, posted seven birdies in his final round and, like Widegren, shot a 73.

Alfredo Ruiz tied for 40th with a total of 227 (77-72-78). He finished his second round Sunday with a pair of birdies and also recorded two birdies in his final round. Ryan Carpenter tied for 50th with a 54-hole score of 231 (73-82-76). Carpenter, who had two birdies Monday afternoon, led the team with 13 pars in the final round.

Photo courtesy of Sun Belt Conference

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