CONOVER, N.C. (May 20) – Russ Purser’s final-round 68 wasn’t enough to extend Central Oklahoma’s season at the NCAA Division II Men’s Golf Championships here Wednesday.
Purser’s 3-under-par closing round gave him a top-10 individual finish, but the Bronchos shot 296 ended up with an 877 total after three trips around the 7,021-yard, par-71 Rock Barn Golf and Spa.
That put UCO 11th in the team standings, with the top eight teams after 54 holes of stroke play advancing to the match play portion of the tournament that determines the national champion.
Purser’s brilliant round let the Bronchos, while Eli Armstrong shot 75, Eric Kline 76, Cody Troutman 77 and Logan Gray 79.
UCO was tied for ninth heading into the final round, but dropped to 11th and missed qualifying for match play by five strokes. Lynn won the stroke play portion at 853, two shots ahead of Nova Southeastern.
Purser was solid all day in tying his low score of the year and ended up tying for 10th in the medalist standings with a one-under 212 total.
Southern Nazarene’s Michael Hearne stayed true to form with a top-five finish.
After finishing no worse than fifth all year, one of the five finalists for the Jack Nicklaus Division II Player of the Year proved he is one of the top players as he tied for fourth by finishing out his career with a 1-under par 70.
Hearne tied with four other players at 210 and was one of just 12 players to finish under par through three rounds. He finished at 3-under par on the tournament and was five shots back of Central Missouri’s Sam Midgal who shot a 68 on the final day. Midgal had already posted a 66 in the first round before a 71 in the second. He then just pulled away from the field down the stretch. Another Jack Nicklaus finalist, Lynn’s Mateo Gomez, made a run at Midgal, but finished three shots back at 208. St. Leo’s Ryan Gendron took third at 209.
Hearne finished the front nine at 1-over with his only bogey coming on the fifth hole. He closed well through with a pair of birdies on 14 and 16 to get his round back under par. He became the first player in school history to reach an NCAA National Championship and set the school record lowest under par at a national championship. His fourth place is the highest finish by an individual at SNU in a national championship since Hamilton Wheeler tied for third in the 2008 NAIA National Championship.