Wheeler wins Big South title; Chants settle for third place

ccugolf-wheelerbscCoastal Carolina junior Ben Wheeler turned in a bogey-free, final-round 3-under par 69 to win individual medalist honors at the 2014 Big South Men’s Golf Championships, played at The Patriot Club at Grand Harbor (par 72, 7.120 yards). The Chanticleers placed third with a 54-hole score of 878 (285-303-290).

Wheeler, who won his first collegiate event, becomes Coastal’s 10th Big South individual champion and the program’s first since 2009. Others to accomplish the feat include Trevor Gliwski (1991), Wil Weldon (1995), Brad Hastings (1999), Rafael Vera (2001), Alvero Velasco (2004), Zack Byrd (2005 and 2009), Dustin Johnson (2007) and David Dannelly (2008).

It was also announced Wednesday that Wheeler and Andrew Dorn were named All-Big South. Wheeler was additionally voted Academic All-Big South (3.36 in finance) and named to the Big South All-Championship Team. Olle Widegren was named to the Big South All-Freshman team.

Liberty won the team title with a 3-over par 867, followed by Charleston Southern (872), Coastal Carolina (878), Radford (887) and Campbell (894). The Chanticleers, winners of 14 Big South men’s golf titles, have never finished lower than fourth at the league meet.

Wheeler posted a 54-hole score of 5-under par 211 (70-72-69), won the title by three strokes, shot par of better all three days and turned in his fifth career round in the 60’s to win. Wheeler’s total of 211 ranks third (tied) all-time by a Chanticleer at the Championships. He had 22 pars and five birdies with no bogeys over his final 27 holes to claim the title. In fact, for the three days, Wheeler only carded five bogeys. He led the field in par 4 scoring (3.93), ranked second with 39 pars and ranked fifth with 10 birdies.

Wheeler entered the final round in third place, trailing Charleston Southern’s David Denlinger by three strokes and second place (Gaston Bertinotti, Campbell) by two strokes. Bertinotti and Denlinger each finished with a three-day total of 214, shooting a 2-over 74 and 3-over 75, respectively, Wednesday. Wheeler opened the final round with pars on the first four holes. He birdied holes five and eight to make the turn at 2-under par. Bertinotti, down one stroke through nine holes, had a double-bogey on the par 4, 11th hole and a bogey on the 14th hole to fall out of contention. Wheeler and Denlinger were tied for the lead at 4-under par for the Championship after Denlinger birdied No. 10.  They traded pars the next three holes until Denlinger dropped a shot with a bogey on hole 14.  Wheeler extended his lead to two shots with a birdie on hole 15 and pared his final three holes for his round of 3-under, being one of just three golfers to shoot in the 60’s Wednesday.

Dorn, who placed fourth in last year’s championship and earned All-Big South for the second consecutive season, closed this year’s championship in impressive fashion. He eagled the final hole, a 554-yard par 5, to post a 2-under par 70 on the final day. He was level par through 17 holes thanks to four birdies, four bogeys and nine pars.  Dorn’s 54-hole total of 219 (71-78-70) moved the junior up five spots to finish seventh.

Senior Roberto Ballesteros carded a final round 75 and tied for 18th with a three-day total of 224 (72-77-75). He placed among the individual top 20 each of his four years at Coastal with finishes of 11th as a freshman, sixth as a sophomore and 17th as a junior.

Olle Widegren posted a 76 for the second consecutive round and finished 30th with a 54-hole score of 229 (77-76-76). Peter Valasek also shot 76 in the final round and tied for 36th with a three-day total of 233 (72-85-76).

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