With just nine holes to play in the final round of the 2017 United States Collegiate Athletic Association Men's Golf National Championship at Penn State University, Georgia Northwestern Technical College - who as recently as five months ago was still signing players to field a team after a year's hiatus - found itself atop the leaderboard.
Unfortunately for the Bobcats, they couldn't close the deal.
After making the turn at 7-over par as a team on Tuesday afternoon, things went sour for the Navy-and-Silver down the stretch. A tough back nine, along with a couple of two-stroke penalties, conspired against the Bobcats as they went 18-over on the final nine holes and slipped to fourth place in the final team standings.
Cleary University (Mich.), the 2015 national champions who shot a 298 in Monday's opening round, couldn't keep up the pace in the final 18 holes. They carded a 311 on Tuesday, leaving the door open for SUNY-Delhi, who fired a 295. That score, combined with a 309 in the opening round, gave the Broncos a 36-hole total of 604 and the national title.
The 295 was the fourth-lowest round by a team in the history of the USCAA National Championships.
Cleary still had enough to hang for the runner-up trophy as their 609 was two shots clear of Indiana's St. Mary's of the Woods College (301-310). Georgia Northwestern (303-313) finished at 616.
Individually, Branton Bailey carded scores of 75 and 78 for the Bobcats. His total of 153 was low enough to earn second team All-American honors. Adrian Clark finished at 155 (75-80), while David Manis (157) rebounded from an opening round 83 to fire a team-low 2-over par 74 on Tuesday. Lane Strickland shot a 153 (77-81) and Cole Roberts finished up with a 162 (76-86).
Colton Kuppler of St. Mary's (75-70) and Russell Herbert of SUNY-Delhi (72-73) finished tied at 1-over par (145) in the individual standings after 36 holes. Kuppler later carded a birdie on the first playoff hole to win the individual championship.
The USCAA National Championships may be over, but the fall season still has a month to go for Georgia Northwestern. The Bobcats will play at the Berry College Invitational at the Stonebridge Golf and Country Club in Rome on Oct. 22-24 before heading to Alexander City, Ala. on Nov. 12-14 for the Trojan Invitational, hosted by Central Alabama Community College.
For more information on Georgia Northwestern Athletics, log on to bobcatscountry.com.