Panthers finish NCAA Championship 23-over

The men’s golf team finished its season shooting 23-over 863 to finish 22nd among the 30 teams in the NCAA Championship at Prairie Dunes Golf Club in Hutchinson, Kansas.

The Panthers finish their season with a Sun Belt title and four tournament wins this season.

Prairie Dunes proved to be the tough test that we thought it would be,” head coach Joe Inman said via email. “We stood with some of the best teams in the country and looked them dead in the eye. It was a great experience for us and will be used as motivation to do even better next year.”

Davin White shot 6-over in Monday morning’s final round to get the best finish among the Panthers in the tournament at 2-over. White was tied for third among all the golfers going into the third round, but dropped to 51 after the final round.

Senior Tyler Gruca finished his four-year career at Georgia State shooting 8-over in the championship. Gruca played in every tournament for the Panthers, 45, totaling up 131 rounds, the third-most in the program’s history.

Tyler Gruca has been everything a coach could ever want,” Inman said. “He helped us establish a new culture here for our program and will be deeply missed.”

Gruca was a walk on Inman allowed on the team four years ago going into his third season as the head coach.

When I first got here my freshman year, it was an afterthought to think that we’d have a chance to compete for a national championship,” Gruca said before the tournament. “It’s a great way to go out in style,” Gruca said on finishing his Georgia State career in a NCAA Championship.

Weather was a nagging problem throughout the tournament. The Panthers were affected twice by rain delays, the first in Friday’s first round forcing the team to finish the round Saturday, and again delaying the team’s third round that started Sunday to Monday.

Inman said the weather did not help, but was a factor for all the competitors.

J.J. Grey shot 11-over in the tournament, Damon Stephenson finished 16-over, and freshman Nathan Mallonee shot 17-over in the tournament.

The Panthers best round in the tournament came on the first 18 holes with the Panthers carding a 285. The Panthers dropped in the second round shooting a 290.

Four of the team’s NCAA Championship squad will return next season.

The top eight teams advance to match play for the national championship, which will be broadcasted on the Golf Channel.