Luke Benoit’s seven-under par round of 65 sparked the Gustavus men’s golf team to the program’s first ever NCAA Division III National Championship. Benoit, a senior from Faribault, Minnesota, scored a double-eagle two on the par 5 16th hole to secure the title for the Gusties. Gustavus finished with a 72-hole total of 299-288-299-292–1178 (+26) which was 12 strokes better than host Redlands University in second place. The tournament was played at the PGA of Southern California Golf Club at Oak Valley near Los Angeles.
The Gusties started the day six strokes ahead of Redlands and Methodist (North Carolina). Host Redlands cut the lead to two strokes early in the round, however Luke Benoit’s four-under par 32 on the front nine kept the Gusties on top. While Benoit carded the big score of the day, his teammates supported him with very solid rounds. Senior Brent Borgstahl fired a one-over par 73,
freshman Chase Thonvold contributed a four-over par 76, senior Neil Johnson added a five-over par 77, while junior Brady Hoffman struggled to a 14-over par 86.
Individually, Benoit finished second with a tourament total of 74-71-74-65–284 (-4). Chad Poling of Ohio Wesleyan claimed medalist honors with a total of 66-71-73-72–282 (-6). Other finishes for the Gusties included Neil Johnson in tenth place (tie) at 72-72-74-77–295 (+7), Chase Thonvold in 19th place at 76-72-76-76–300, Brent Borgstahl in 24th place at 77-75-75-74–301, and Brady Hoffmann in 80th place at 78-73-80-86–317 (+29).
Luke Benoit’s 65, the second of his collegiate career, ties the NCAA record for low round in the national tournament that was set last year by Janne Mammo of Averett. Benoit also tied the school record which he held with Pete Anderson (1992).
Benoit earns First Team All-America honors with his second place finish, while Neil Johnson earns second team honors with his tenth place finish. Benoit had carded a 12th place finish a year ago, while Johnson posted a fourth place finish last year in helping the Gusties to a sixth place finish. Gustavus, which was making its 20th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Championships, had finished second three times before (1990, 1991, 1992), but had not been able to claim the big prize until now. The national title is the first for a Gustavus athletics team since the women’s tennis team captured the national crown in 1990. It is the fourth NCAA team title for the Gustavus athletic program with the men’s tennis program winning the other two in 1980 and 1982.