ALLENDALE, Mich. — Ricardo Celia had as good a week as any of the 108 players in this week’s NCAA II national golf championships, yet he was sad and disappointed when he left The Meadows Friday afternoon.
Celia, a senior at Nova Southeastern in Ft. Lauderdale, was one of only three players who posted a sub-par and an even-par round in the tournament’s 54-hole stroke play segment. He finished fourth in the stroke play standings with a 3-over 71-77-68-216. In Thursday and Friday’s medal match play portion of the tournament, Celia was one of just two players who won all three of their matches.
Barry junior Berry Jole won all three of his matches and walked away with a national championship. Celia walked away sad.
Celia was the only Shark to win a match Friday morning as Nova Southeastern lost to Barry in the national championship tournament’s final match. Celia, who entered this week’s championships ranked No. 69 in the country, beat Barry’s top player and the No. 1-ranked golfer in the nation, Adam Svensson by one stroke in Friday’s finals. Celia shot an even-par 71 Friday.
“It’s very sad because we didn’t win and we came here to win,” Celia said. “Obviously it didn’t turn out that way, but we did our best. We played very solid throughout the week and sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t. It didn’t go our way this time.”
Nova Southeastern earned the No. 1 seed following the 54 holes of stroke play with an 863 team total, beating runner-up Barry by 14 strokes.
“The course was set up really tough [Friday],” Celia said after Friday’s final match. “There were some tricky pins and the guys did their best,” he said. “Maybe they didn’t hole as many putts as you would like to, but these greens were really tough.”
Celia, who hails from Barranquilla, Colombia, is one of two seniors on the Sharks roster. The other, Mitch Farrer, lives in West Sussex, England. Nova Southeastern’s lineup also featured sophomore Santiago Gomez who also is from Colombia, junior Oscar Lengden of Sweden and sophomore Hunter O’Mahony of Jupiter, Florida.
“They all had a good outing [Friday],” Celia said of his teammates. “They all fought back and I’m proud of the team. We all did our best.”
Celia, who graduated earlier this spring with a degree in business administration, beat Max Kirsch of Indiana (Pa.) by six strokes in the quarterfinals and beat Tyler Light of Malone by five strokes in the semifinals. He plans to play amateur golf this summer and then turn professional in October.
“The rough was really thick out here,” Celia said. “The greens were sloping and they put the pins in tricky positions. It was a real test of golf.”