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Leonard Wins Individual Title; Eastern Florida Golfers Head to Nationals for 12th Straight Time
April 16, 2014 - Overcoming a slow start, a six-hour rain delay and a soggy and windy course Eastern Florida's men's golf team on Tuesday finished third in the NJCAA Division I District 4 tournament to advance to the national tournament for the 12th straight season.
The Titans, paced by the district championship-winning effort from sophomore Arthur Leonard, rallied from being tied for fourth eight strokes back to finish third eight strokes back. The top six finishers advance to the national tournament.
Leonard shot a remarkably consistent 73-73-73-219 to win the title by one stroke over Madison Turner of district champion Darton.
Darton shot 895 to win in its hometown of Albany, GA. Wallace State of Alabama was second at 898 and defending district champion Eastern Florida third at 903.
Also qualifying for nationals were defending national champion Central Alabama, Cape Fear Community College of North Carolina and Faulkner State of Alabama.
"There was never any thought that we weren't going to nationals," said Eastern Florida head coach Jamie Howell who will make his 12th trip to the national tournament in his 12 years at the helm.
"We wanted to sweep all three tournaments in Albany," he added about Eastern Florida's victory at the District Preview last fall and at Darton's tournament this spring.
"We made up a little bit of ground in the second round on Monday and we shot the second lowest score of the third round. It's been about perseverance all spring. We have been constantly adjusting to conditions and courses. It's been a tough spring.
"Now we've got a month to get ready for nationals."
The tournament will be held May 13-16 in Burlington, IA.
Howell also credited Leonard with a good bit of perseverance.
"Watching him play all year Arthur's been working toward this for the last three months," Howell said.
"His game has been progressively been improving. He persevered through bad weather. The course was wet and the wind was blowing from 10 to 20 to 25 mph."
For his part Leonard said his individual standing was never on his mind.
"It feels amazing," he said. "I am kind of shell shocked to be honest. I never really considered it. I just played golf. I never really thought abut winning. I was just trying to do the best I could for the team. It was tough out there. It was brutal.
"All the work hard I've done this year, it really paid off. We are receiving the awards for everything we did."
Leonard's teammates Drew Cooke shot 79-73-75-227; Kyle Benson 77-75-78-230; Brad Gray 76-77-80-233; and Nick Maynard 80-71-82-233.
Leonard, Gray and Cooke were named to the All-District team.