Four strokes down the leaderboard entering the final round, Stetson's Sam Ryder knew he still had a chance to attain his goal of winning the 2012 Atlantic Sun Conference Championship title, but a two-and-a-half hour rain delay before the round began gave the senior a little extra time to contemplate the possibility of teeing off in his last collegiate round.
"I knew the conditions were going to help me out and if I could pull out a pretty good round in these conditions it would be easier for me to move up the leaderboard."
Early in his round, Ryder maintained a level score with seven pars and only one birdie and a bogey on the front nine for an even-par, 36, at the turn. A bogey on the course's fourth hole - his 13th hole of the day after starting on the back-nine - dropped Ryder a few spots back of the leaders.
"It was all about grinding it out today," Ryder said of the wet Wednesday conditions. "There were tough conditions, but I made some putts down the stretch and avoided big mistakes throughout the round."
A 25-foot putt on No. 6 placed Ryder right back into the ring for the conference title following bogeys by the competitors in front of him. With only a few holes remaining, Ryder was informed of where his three-day total stood by the Hatters' Head Coach Bob Weickel and a friend on the course. He was only one shot back from first place.
"I knew when I was on eight that I probably needed a birdie to finish the round and really give myself a chance to win," Ryder stated.
With his ball sitting only 15-feet from the hole, Ryder had a birdie putt and as the ball rolled into the cup he a fist pump in celebration. He knew his goal was almost in hand and his collegiate career would see another round.
The Longwood, Fla. native finished the tournament at three-under-par two strokes ahead of a three-way tie for second. The individual medalist honors was the first for Stetson since 1991 when Tom Creavy won for the Hatters.
The title clinched Ryder an individual berth into the NCAA Regionals on May 17-19. With a strong performance at the regionals, Ryder could earn a spot in the national tournament as well.
"I had the mentality coming in that this could be one of my last tournaments if not my last time out so I'm really excited to keep on going."