Feb. 29, 2012

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By Dan Ryan

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - That battle between Bethune-Cookman and Florida Atlantic that was supposed to be for the Gary Freeman B-CU Spring Invitational men's championship? Laval University ignored it and won the title by three shots Wednesday at the LPGA International Champions course.

The team from Quebec City, Canada posted a team total of 288 Wednesday to erase a five-shot deficit to overtake the Wildcats and the Owls, who had a one-shot lead after Tuesday's 36 holes.

Laval's 54-hole total was 873, followed by B-CU (876) and FAU (882).

"I told our guys not to try to beat the first and second place teams," said Laval coach Mathieu Paradis. "Play your game and see what happens."

Here's what happened: Charles Cote had the day's best round with a five-under 67 and Max Gilbert was also under with a 71.

"Both made putts and hit the ball straight," Paradis said.

B-CU coach Loritz Clark, who handed the coaching duties to Assistant Maria Garrido while he ran the tournament, had a feeling Laval would make a run.

"I know what they're capable of," Clark said of Laval, who has played against B-CU in many recent tournaments. They've pushed and motivated us and they were right on our heels. Hats off to them."

"We need all our guys to finish under par if we wanted a shot to win," Clark added. "I'm surprised it was this close. But it was exciting."

Jamichael Jones and Matthew McKnight tied for third with three-round totals of 217. Rafeal Abd (224) tied for 13th and Emmanuel Petrich (226) tied for 17th.

Medalist honors went to Florida Atlantic's Clint Wilhelm, who held off Cote for a one-shot victory with a 212. Wilhelm, who will miss FAU's next two tournaments while on a field camp for Geology majors to the mountains of North Carolina ("I get to sleep in tents and look at rocks for spring break," he said) struggled to a 73 Wednesday after a 67 in his second round.

"The course was longer and the pins were in harder positions," Wilhelm said. "Some days you just try to grind it out."