Birdie lifts the Birds: Rebne's putt secures NAIA national championship for Dalton State men

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May 21—Dalton State College's Ben Rebne had a putt in the rain on hole 18 with a chance to secure the men's golf team an NAIA national championship.

The ball slowly crept toward the hole, dropped in, and Rebne and the Roadrunners celebrated.

At the NAIA national championships in Silvis, Illinois, on Friday, Rebne's putt sank for a birdie and gave Dalton State the title by one stroke over runner-up Texas Wesleyan.

Rebne and the Roadrunners entered the day with a four-shot lead in first place after three rounds of play. Dalton State shot a 13-over 297 in the final round, while Texas Wesleyan charged up the leaderboard with a 2-over total. Rebne's putt on the 18th managed to keep the Roadrunners in front, with Wesleyan already finished, and earn the Roadrunners their first team NAIA national championship.

Dalton State came close three years ago, finishing as the runner-up. Texas Wesleyan was the champion in 2019, and the tournament was not held last season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Roadrunners were ranked in the top five last season at the time of the shutdown, and Dalton State entered the national championships ranked fifth in the NAIA after winning the Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament.

Rebne was the runner-up in the individual field, finishing four strokes behind Morningside College's Corey Matthey. The Roadrunners have had two individual national champions before: S.M. Lee in 2018 and Sean Elliot in 2015.

Steve Kibare was the second-lowest scorer for the Roadrunners in the championship tournament, shooting a four-round 291. Matthew Cleary finished at 296 and Trevor Bassett at 301.

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