HILTON HEAD, S.C. – Gardner-Webb men's golf pulled away over the final moments Tuesday to win the 2017 Wexford Plantation Intercollegiate in its first tournament of the spring season.
The Runnin' Bulldogs held off Big South foe Winthrop in the final round, equaling the Eagles' 293 to win the tournament by four strokes. Gardner-Webb (298-291-293-882) had the best round of the day as a team, with Winthrop and host Francis Marion also shooting a 293 team score on the 6,913-yard course (Par 72).
Gardner-Webb sank 11 birdies as a team over the back nine Tuesday to seize the trophy. Freshman Steffen Smith had four birdies on the back nine, including three consecutive on the 12-14 holes. He also birdied the 18th.
Jonathan Henry had the team's best round of the day, shooting a 2-under 70. Henry birdied holes No. 4, No. 6 and No. 12 on Tuesday. He made the turn at minus-2 and played even par over the back nine.
Vincent Blanchette led the way for the 'Dogs, finishing in second individually with a three day score of 71-71-73-215. He birdied two holes on the front nine and two more on the back, including a key put for a birdie on the par-4 18th hole.
Blanchette finished three strokes behind medalist Myles Creighton of Radford (71-73-68-212).
Gardner-Webb finished a tournament-best 6-under par on Par 5 holes for the event and led the tournament with 52 birdies – 13 more than any other team in the field. Aaron Thomas (13), Smith (11) and Blanchette (11) were among the tournament's individual birdie leaders.
Gardner-Webb was the best in a field of 18 teams, which included Big South foes Winthrop (2nd), Radford (t-3rd), High Point (9th) and Presbyterian (14th).
Up next for Gardner-Webb is the Southern Intercollegiate on March 14 in Athens, Ga.
1 Gardner-Webb 298 291 293 882
2 Vincent Blanchette (2) 71 71 73 215
T12 Aaron Thomas (4) 74 73 74 221
T29 Chris Jones (1) 73 72 81 226
T34 Jonathan Henry (3) 80 77 70 227
T49 Steffen Smith (5) 80 75 76 231