By Ken MacLeod
Michael Balcar, a 2016 graduate of Cleveland State University just beginning his professional career, shot 63-65 on the weekend at the Oak Tree Country Club East Course to romp to a five-shot victory in the Oklahoma Open over 2014 champion Robby Ormand of Austin, Texas.
Balcar, a Toledo, Ohio native who spent his fifth year at Cleveland State as a graduate assistant coach, made eight birdies in Saturdayâ€™s round of 63 while most of the field struggled with high winds, then came back with a six-birdie, one bogey effort Sunday to finish at 12-under 198.
Mark Walker of Hurst, Texas, closed with a 64 to move into third place, followed by Rob Hudson of Dallas at 4-under 204. The best finish by an Oklahoman was Austin Bowman of Pryor, who closed with a 67 to finish at 2-under 208.
Low amateur honors went to Cody Burrows of Chickasha and Oral Roberts University. The runner-up in this summerâ€™s Oklahoma Golf Association Stroke Play Championship shot rounds of 70-68-71 to finish at 1-under 209. Three other Oklahoma amateurs nabbed top-20 finishes including Mike Hearne at even-par 210 and Alec Heinen and Austin Eckroat at 1-over 211.
Balcar had a two-shot lead over Ormand after nine holes Sunday and birdied two of the first three holes on the back nine. Ormand, however, birdied the first four holes to pull within one shot going into the par-3 14th, which requires a carry of more than 210 yards over water to a pin precariously close to the front edge.
Ormand pulled a 4-iron well left of the green while Balcar hit a 5-iron that settled pin high just 5 feet away. When Ormand could not get his par putt to drop, Balcar rolled in his short birdie to push the lead to three.
Ormand chipped away with another birdie on the par-4 16th, but his tee shot on the par-3 17th found the water in front of the green and the suspense was over. Balcar went on to birdie the 18th as his approach landed just inches from the pin and spun back a foot.
â€œThe two par-threes are really hard,â€ Ormand said. â€œI made two bad swings and paid the price for it. On 17, I tried to hit a hook in there and go for that flag. The thing is, he was playing so good. As many birdies as I made, he never backed down or flinched. Hats off to him.â€
Balcar collected the first place prize of $10,000, for which he can thank fellow young professional Zac Cleland of Wichita. The two met at another event and decided to do some traveling together. When Balcar could not get a spot in the Arizona Open, Cleland told him about the Oklahoma Open. The entry paid off and Balcar now has his name on a trophy with some of the more illustrious names in Oklahoma golf history as well as other mini-tour adventurers who in recent years have gone on to the PGA Tour, including Robert Streb and Rhein Gibson.
Oklahoma Golf Association
Oklahoma Open Championship
August 19-21, 2016
Oak Tree Country Club – East
Michael Balcar, Phoenix, Arizona – 70-63-65–198
Robby Ormand, Austin, Texas – 67-68-68–203
Mark Walker, Hurst, Texas – 70-69-64–203
Brad Gehl, Carmel, Ind. – 68-67-69–204
Rob Hudson, Dallas, Texas – 71-65-70–206
Franklin Corpening, Fort Worth, Texas – 68-69-69–206
Alex Moon, Dallas, Texas – 69-70-68–207
Austin Bowman, Pryor, Okla. – 70-71-67–208
Scott Kelly, Austin, Texas – 71-69-68–208
Curtis Yonke, Overland Park, Kan. – 71-71-66–208
Tyler Gann, Tomball , Texas – 68-71-69–208
Cody Burrows (A), Chickasha, Okla. – 70-68-71–209
Austin Jordan, Rainbow, Texas – 72-68-69–209
Sarosh Adi, Frisco, Texas – 66-72-71–209
Logan McCracken, Oklahoma City, Okla. – 69-71-69–209
Kevin Kring, Springfield, Mo. – 69-69-72–210
Mike Hearne (A), Oklahoma City, Okla. – 66-70-74–210
Phillip Bryan, Oklahoma City, Okla. – 71-70-70–211
Alec Heinen (A), Edmond, Okla. – 70-69-72–211
Luke Kwon, Carrollton, Texas – 72-69-70–211
Austin Eckroat (A), Edmond, Okla. – 71-70-70–211
Garrison Lackey, Weslaco, Texas – 70-71-70–211
Alex Gutesha, Dallas, Texas – 74-66-71–211
Bobby Hudson, Memphis, Tenn. – 73-69-69–211
Charlie Saxon, Tulsa, Okla. – 69-69-74–212
Corey Hale, Oklahoma city, Oklahoma – 70-72-70–212
Britt Pavelonis, Harrisburg, Ill. – 70-70-72–212
Joseph Juszczyk, Dearborn heights , Mich. – 70-70-72–212
Kyle Robbins, Bedford, Texas – 66-75-71–212
Mark Stevens, Concord, N.H. – 73-69-71–213
Luke Phillips (A), Edmond, Okla. – 68-70-75–213
Jace Long, McKinney, Texas – 71-69-73–213
Wesley McClain, Addison, Texas – 68-71-74–213
Chris Brant, Edwardsville, Ill. – 69-66-78–213
Taylor Artman, Norman, Okla. – 71-71-72–214
Brandon Reyna, San Antonio, Texas – 68-73-74–215
Dylan McClure, Trophy Club, Texas – 70-67-78–215
Chris Kunda, Grand Prairie , Texas – 73-68-74–215
Preston Stanley, Katy, Texas – 71-71-74–216
Mj Daffue, Kingwood, Texas – 72-69-78–219
Ryan Grider (A), Lewisville, Texas – 69-70-81–220
Dustin Wigington, Edmond, Okla. – 71-69-81–221