The Charlotte golf program won its seventh league title in eight seasons of membership at this weekend’s Atlantic 10 Championships, contested for the second-straight year at the Heron Bay Golf Club in Coral Springs, Fla.
Sophomore Raoul Menard (Ange-Gardier, Quebec City / Beaulieu) became the eighth golfer in league history to win Medalist honors a second time, and head coach Ryan Cabbage won his first A-10 Coach of the Year Honor.
The 49ers shot 20-under par (278-285-281 – 844) after posting a seven-under score in the final round to run away with the crown. The 49ers were eight shots clear of second-place VCU and 17 shots ahead of third-place Temple at the par-72, 7,268-yard course.
“I am ecstatic with our results today on a day when we knew we would need to play well,” said head coach Ryan Cabbage. “VCU played well like we knew they would, but our guys hung in there and got off to a great start. I am super proud of Raoul for winning the title two years in a row. Braeden got off to a great start and was solid all day long. Joe also got off to a great start and Franco was solid all day today. To see the effort that the guys have put in pay off makes it well deserved for this conference championship for those guys.”
Menard was just the seventh player in league history to win back-to-back individual titles, the second from Charlotte. He was nine-under for the weekend (67-71-69 – 207) with his four-under par finish. Sunday, Menard posted four birdies on the front nine, to go with three more birdies on the back nine with two bogeys. He was two strokes better than Brandon Matthews of Temple and four shots clear of Steffen Ham of VCU, who was in a tie with Menard for the overall lead at the start of the final round. Menard is the third 49er to win the individual crown, but the fifth A-10 individual title for a Niner in eight years of league membership. Matt Mincer won individual honors in 2007 and Corey Nagy won back-to-back titles in 2009 & 2010.
Charlotte placed three other golfers in the Top 15 of the event to take the league title. Freshman Thomas Rowland (Consett, England / St. Bedes Catholic School and Sixth Form College) finished in a tie for ninth at one-under (69-71-75 – 215) with a three-over final round.
Charlotte juniors Joe Toland (White River Junction, Vt. / Hartford HS) and Franco Castro (Alpharetta, Ga. / LSU) both finished tied for 14th at even par. Toland (73-70-73 – 216) was steady throughout the weekend, finishing Sunday with two birdies and three bogeys in his final 18 holes, while Castro (69-76-71 – 216) was able to bounce back with a one-under Sunday round, with two birdies and a par on the front before nine pars on the back.
Senior Braeden Cryderman Cryderman (Huntsville, Ontario / Queens University of Charlotte) finished in a tie for 22nd at three-over (78-73-68 – 219) and powered the Niners on Sunday with a four-under final round, the second-lowest round of round three. He started with birdies on the first and second before his first bogey of the day on the 11th. Three straight birdies from the 13th to 15th holes put him at five under before a bogey on 18 for his 68.
Menard, Castro and Cryderman landed on the 2013 A-10 All-Conference Team.
“I feel like we are playing well and we are excited to get out there for postseason play,” added Cabbage. “We will take some time off for exams and we will get right back to work for whichever regional they send us.”
By virtue of the win, the 49ers earn an automatic berth to the NCAA Regionals, their ninth-straight trip to the postseason. Charlotte will await word of its placement to one of six Regional Tournaments. Those will be held in Baton Rouge, La., Tallahassee, Fla., Columbus, Ohio, Fayetteville, Ark., Pullman, Wash. and Tempe, Ariz. from May 16-18.