HORSESHOE BAY – After dodging storms for much of the first two days of the Heartland Conference Championship, the Oklahoma Christian Eagles find themselves with a lot of work to do on the tournament’s final day.
OC completed the weather-delayed first round at Apple Rock Golf Course on Monday with a team score of 306, leaving the Eagles in fourth place, 11 shots behind the leader, Dallas Baptist (Texas), seven shots behind St. Mary’s (Texas) and one behind St. Edward’s (Texas).
Because of the heavy rain that has plagued the tournament, conference officials decided to shorten the event from its scheduled 54 holes to 36 holes, meaning the Eagles will have only one round in which to rally. The tournament winner receives an automatic berth in the NCAA West-South Central Super Regional, to be played in two weeks in Las Cruces, N.M.
OC was just over halfway through its first round Sunday when the first rain delay began, and play eventually was suspended for the day with the Eagles tied for second. Ten minutes after taking the course Monday for the completion of the round, there was another delay that lasted almost four hours.
OC freshman Alejandro Valenzuela led the Eagles in the opening round, firing a 1-under-71 on the 6,968-yard course to stand in third place in the 50-man field, two shots behind Andrew Spear of St. Edward’s and one behind Garrett Fey of Dallas Baptist.
Senior Sam Johnston, the 2015 Heartland player of the year, was tied for 10th after shooting a 75. Sophomore Zac Schaefer was two shots further back at 77, tied for 14th. Freshman Juan Pallach (83) was tied for 38th and freshman Manuel Hernandez (88) was 47th.
Rogers State, playing as individuals due to their provisional status in NCAA Division II, slogged to a finish after many delays. Patrick Bart fired back-to-back birdies on the par-four 15th and 16th holes on his way to a 78 as the lone RSU player in the top 20 tied for 18th place.
Ending his day just one shot out of the top 20, Eric Moore carded a 79 in his opener. Aaron Davis posted an 80, Owen Bates shot 82 and Alex Marsh 84.