SAINT LEO, Fla. – Ray Cisbani and the rest of the Saint Leo men’s golf team are coming off an incredible 2009-10 campaign which saw the senior-laden squad earn a school record four team titles. Now the team looks to demonstrate their abilities against some of the top-tier teams in the nation at the Sunshine State Conference Tournament at the Grande Oaks Golf Course in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. (Hosted by Nova Southeastern University). Sunday’s practice round will begin the Lions tournament run, with first and second rounds to be played on Monday and the final 18-holes to be completed on Tuesday.
The tournament will feature six top-25 teams, including top-ranked Barry. The squad currently ranks 19th in the country according to GolfStat and stand ninth in the latest regional rankings.
The Lions opened the fall portion of their schedule with back-to-back wins at the Tampa Spartan and Saint Leo invitational’s, before taking back-to-back spring victories at the Treasure Coast Classic and Mission Inn Spring Fling in March.
The Lions have received spectacular performances out of their cast of many all season. And, this group is determined to see their dream season extended through the conference championships and into the NCAA Tournament. Leading the re-energized group is freshman Nick Brothers. The Crystal River, Fla. native has bolted up the charts as one of the top players in Division II, posting 75.59 scoring average. He has claimed an 8-3 record against the top-100, including two victories against the top-25. Of his 19 rounds played, he has posted scores in the 70’s 14 times, while also partaking with two rounds of 68. His best individual performance came at the Treasure Coast Classic in March, where finished 2nd-of-56 with a two-under-par 211 (68-70-73—211).
He is followed by a trio of seniors, whose presence and leadership abilities have been pivotal in the teams’ run this season. JP Albuquerque is first on that list. He has been consistent all season, posting scores in the 70’s in each of his 22 rounds, including two rounds of 69. He is the 112th-ranked player in Division II with a 74.3 adjusted scoring average and has notched three wins against top-100 competition. The Londrina, Brazil native has amassed four top-ten finishes and three-top five performances.
Senior Mark McGuire has put his stamp on the season, claiming the best single-round score in Saint Leo history with a 64 in the Spartan Invitational. It was one of two tournament wins for the Clifton, N.J. native. He was also names Sunshine State Conference men’s golfer of the week back in March and currently ranks 125th in DII with a 74.43 scoring average. He also has delivered four wins against the top-100 performers.
The final senior is Cole Cisbani. A four-year member of the team, Cisbani has posted a pair of second-place finishes and has placed in the top-15 in five of his six tournaments. His best spring finish came at the Treasure Coast Classic, amassing two-under-par 211 (70-71-70).
Meanwhile, junior Tom Lynn continues to demonstrate a steady club, shooting in the 70’s in 18-of-19 rounds. He posted a round season-low, one-under 70, at the Treasure Coast Classic just one month ago.
Rick Briggs has also contributed to a tremendous season, as he as posted rounds in the 70’sseven different times. He participated in one spring event and finished 17th –of-56 with an eight-over-par 221 at the Treasure Coast Classic.
About the opportunity to succeed at the SSC Championships, Coach Cisbani stated, “We have a real good group of talented players and people on this team. They push each other in every aspect of the game, whether it's in practice or in tournament situations. They are always aiming to better themselves. I know what they can do; I have seen it time and time again on the golf course. I know we can make a positive impact on this tournament and show that SLU men’s golf can play with anyone in the country.”
He continued, “I am very confident in their abilities and their mindset when they hit the course. Still, this has been a tremendous season and I couldn’t be any more proud of a group than I am of this one."
A solid performance out of the bunch in Ft.Lauderdale and they can solidify going to regional's as a team for the first time.
Stay tuned with SaintLeoLions.com for round-by-round coverage of the SSC Tournament.
No. 1 Barry leads a field of five top-25 teams. The Buccaneers claimed eight top-five finishes at nine tournaments. Having won the Buccaneer Invitational a little over a week ago, the Bucs posted back-to-back first-place finishes in October at the Columbus State Cougar and NSU Shark invitational’s.
Florida Southern carries the No. 3 national ranking into the conference tournament, having etched six top-five finishes in eight events. The Moccasins won the USF Invitational and placed second at the Queens Invitational and Southeastern Collegiate.
No. 6 Lynn has also recorded six top-five finishes. The Knights claimed the top spot at the Georgia College Bobcat Invitational. They tallied second-place showings at the NSU Shark and Buccaneer invitational’s.
Host Nova Southeastern currently weighs in at No. 8 in the coaches poll. The Sharks résumé includes four top-ten finishes. NSU posted back-to-back victories, winning their last event of the fall season at the Rollins Invitational, and then opening the spring season with a win at the Golfweek DII Spring Invitational.
Ranked No. 25, Rollins has finished in the top five three times in nine tournaments. The Tars turned in fourth-place finishes at the Mission Inn Collegiate and Palmas Del Mar Intercollegiate.
Florida Tech, which also received votes in the latest poll, tallied a pair of top-five finishes in nine outings. The Panthers’ best showing was a fourth-place finish at FSC’s Matlock Collegiate Classic.