MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. — Carlos Leandro wrapped up his Newberry College career with a one-over 73 in the final round of the 2018 NCAA Division II Men’s Golf Championships, finishing tied for 34th overall at two over par.
Leandro departs as the conference’s all-time leader in career stroke average at 72.46 strokes per round. He set a school record by playing 39 rounds at or below par, encompassing over half of his 77.5 rounds during a three-year playing career.
The nation’s 11th-ranked player tied a school record with two tournament wins, both this season, and finished his career with nine top-fives and 17 top-10’s in 28 events played. His career win/loss percentage of .813 is tops in Newberry history among golfers that competed multiple seasons for the Scarlet and Gray.
For his efforts this season, Leandro has been named SAC Golfer of the Year, Newberry College Male Athlete of the Year, all-Southeast Region and a semifinalist for the Division II Jack Nicklaus National Player of the Year Award presented by Barbasol. Last season he earned Second Team All-America status with a 10th-place finish in stroke play at the NCAA Championships.
“It would take me a while to say how much he means to our program,” said Head Coach Howard Vroon moments after watching Leandro sink a par putt and sharing an embrace on the 18th green. “So to keep it short, I’ll say: He’s a once-in-a-lifetime Newberry College player. We may never have a player as good as Carlos again. He’s very, very special, and we’re very, very blessed to have had him as part of our program.”
Leandro was even through 14 holes before an errant tee shot on the par-four 15th led to a double bogey. He finished his day with three birdies, including his second straight on the 566-yard par-five 17th.
Nos. 3-7 had been particularly vexing during the opening two rounds, but Leandro navigated the section expertly on Wednesday by going one-over through the five-hole stretch. At the par-five seventh: His tee shot found the woods to the left of the fairway, but a low shot from the treeline got him within 100 yards of the green, leading to a short putt for par.
Leandro’s day also included a 28-foot birdie putt on the first hole, the longest putt he sank of the tournament. He knocked down a 15-foot birdie putt on No. 11 and was under par on No. 17 for the second consecutive day.
“His round today was good,” Vroon said. “I know he’s disappointed because it wasn’t great—he wanted great today. He struck it solid; really only made one bad swing, and paid for it on 15. He also got two buried lies in bunkers which were both tough breaks and led to bogeys. Without that bad swing and those bad breaks, it’s really a spectacular round.”
John VanDerLaan of Florida Southern was 17 under par to win the individual national championship by four strokes over Barry’s Jorge Garcia. Lincoln Memorial’s Sam Broadhurst was 10 under to finish fourth and lead the Railsplitters to an eighth-place finish.
Lincoln Memorial becomes the second-ever SAC team to advance into match play, a feat Newberry has accomplished twice, and will square off with second-ranked Florida Southern in tomorrow’s match play quarterfinals.
Carson-Newman’s Tom Forster, competing as an individual, finished tied for 63rd at eight over.
Leandro will travel back to his native Spain this week with the intention of turning pro and qualifying for the European Tour.