HEBER SPRINGS, AR (HardingSports.com) - The Natural State Golf Classic is supposed to be a 36-hole event. But when Harding and No. 47 Southeastern Oklahoma both had two-round scores of 583, it became a 37-hole event that Harding won in a playoff.
Southeastern led Harding by nine strokes with only four holes to play, but a couple of bad holes for the Savage Storm and two key birdie putt for Harding--one by Lucas Collins on the 16th hole and a 20-foot putt by freshman Brad Lamb on 18 knotted the score.
To break the tie, the two teams went back to the par-5, 545-yard Hole 1. Each member of the two teams played the hole and the best four scores for each team make up the team score. Harding had all five of its members available to play, but Southeastern had only four after team member Coleman Caldwell had withdrawn from the tournament on the eighth hole after suffering an injury.
With nerves apparent, only one player birdied the hole, Southeastern's Jeff Hunter, who was the tournament's individual medalist. But after eight of the nine players finished the hole, Southeastern had a team score of 22, and Harding had a score of 20 with Nathan Kannenberg staring down a two-foot putt to win it. He made it, and Harding had its second tournament title of the 2013-14 season in the 11-team event.
"It was the most exciting golf I've been a part of," Harding head coach Dustin Howell said.
It was the eighth time Harding had hosted the Natural State Golf Classic and its first victory.
"I got tired of buying trophies and giving them away," said Howell, who has coached Harding for the last six seasons.
Harding had four players finish in the top 10. Collins, Kannenberg, and Alex Williamson all shot 4-over 146 to tie for fourth. Jordan Perry tied for eighth at 5-over 147, and Lamb tied for 29th at 13-over 155. However, Lamb shot 2-over 73, tied for Harding's second-best score in the second round.
Harding's 583 tied for the second-best two-round score in program history and was the best score ever by the team at the Natural State Golf Classic. It's previous best was 592 in 2012.
Hunter shot even-par 142 to win the event by two strokes over his teammate Jeff Schroeder. Adam Hall of Blue Mountain was third at 145.