LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL – The Saint Peter's University men's golf team won the 2017 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Golf Championship on Sunday afternoon, the programs third title in the last four years (2014 and 2015). Sophomore, Mike Winter (Hamilton Square, NJ/Notre Dame) was the individual top finisher, earning the individual crown and McLeod Trophy for the Most Outstanding Golfer (MVP) of the tournament. First year head coach Nick Dilio was named the MAAC Coach of the Year.
"It was a great, great, great day," exclaimed Dilio. "The guys fought all day long. We had a great game plan coming in and the guys executed just as planned. We cut Siena's lead in half at the turn and by the 14th or 15th hole we were all square. The guys finished off the last three holes strong to hold off Siena."
The Peacocks entered the final day of competition in second place with a 615 (+14) two rounds, trailing the 2016 defending champions, Siena College 608 (+11) by seven-strokes and leading Manhattan College 616 (+13) by just one stroke. The team shot a tournament-best 295 (+7) in the final round, outscoring Siena by 10-strokes on day three, to take the crown with a final score of 910 (+46), three strokes ahead of the Saints. The Peacocks score 313-302-295=910 is the second best team finish ever behind the 2015 championship team which posted a score of 288-293-304=885. Saint Peter's three MAAC championships are tied with Siena for the fourth most team titles in conference history.
"I couldn't be happier for Mike Winter," rejoiced Dilio. "He has really stepped up big for us this year and without him we wouldn't be where we are. I couldn't be more proud of not only Mike but the entire team."
Like the team, Winter entered the final day chasing the leaders. He came into Sunday's final round tied for third with a 149 (+5), trailing Siena teammates Jake Holt, 145 (+1) and Michael Christifulli, 146 (+2) and tied with Kevin Duncan of Fairfield University. Winter shot one under par in the final round for a 71 (-1), making one eagle, eight birdies, and seven even pars, to finish five strokes better than Holt 76 (+4), to surpass him. His final round score of 71 is the second-best individual round ever by a Peacock at the MAACs behind Dilio's second round low of 70 in the 2016 tournament. Winter ended the tournament shooting a tournament low 220 (+4), outlasting Holt by one stroke, 221 (+5). By winning the MAAC individual championship, Winter joins Dilio, the 2016 individual champion, as the only other Peacock to win individual titles. Winter's three-round score of 76-73-71=220 is the third best individual tournament by a Peacock only trailing Dilio's 2015 (216) and 2016 (212) finishes.
Dilio becomes the second Saint Peter's head coach to ever win Coach of the Year honors, joining his former coach and three-time Coach of the Year winner Peter Falloon (2012, 2014, and 2015). Dilio becomes the first person in MAAC history to win both the McLeod Trophy as a player and the Coach of the Year trophy as a head coach.
"Awesome job by the team this weekend," said former head coach and current Director of Golf Peter Falloon. "A team with four freshman, two sophomores, one senior and a first year head coach and we are able to still win our third championship in four years. You can't beat that!"
In addition to Winter, freshman Ryan Rodriguez (Highland Mills, NY/Cornwall Central) finished fourth, joining Winter on the Top-10 Finishers podium after shooting a 224 (+8). Rodriguez was in eighth place after two rounds and moved up four spots by shooting a tournament personal-low 73 (+1) on the final round making four birdies, 11 pars, and three bogeys.
Danny Lapp (Trumansburg, NY/ Charles O. Dickerson) just missed the podium in his first ever MAAC tournament, finishing tied for 11th after carding a 229 (+13) in the three days. Lapp who entered the last round tied for 11th, shot an 81, 73, and 75.
Senior Dominic Diaz (Bridgewater, NJ/Bridgewater Raritan) finished up his career with a tied for 30th place finish, shooting an 82, 79, and 76 for a 237 (+21) score.
Jose Cardona (San Juan, Puerto Rico/American Military Academy) ended the three-day tournament tied for 41st with a score of 249 (+33) and posting rounds of 84, 82, and 83.
Saint Peter's receives an automatic bid to the 2017 NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championship. The 2017 NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championship selection show will be televised on the Golf Channel, Thursday, May 4, 2017 at 12:00 p.m.