SILVIS, Ill. – No. 1-ranked Oklahoma City University wrapped up its 11th men’s golf national championship in the NAIA Championships on Friday at TPC Deere Run.
Oklahoma City captured its second national title in three years by 13 shots over second-ranked Dalton State (Ga.). Rupert Kaminski topped the Stars by finishing tied for sixth individually to collect all-tournament honors.
Garrison Mendoza, David Meyers and Gaston Romero of the Stars also took all-tournament nods by finishing among the top 15. Oklahoma City was the last team to have four golfers earn all-tournament accolades when the Stars won the 2013 national crown in Salem, Ore. All five Stars turned in top-25 showings as Peri’Don Castille finished 22nd.
OCU owns national championships won in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2016 and now, 2018. The Stars took titles at TPC Deere Run, host of the PGA TOUR’s John Deere Classic, in 2010 and 2016 previously.
In all sports, Oklahoma City racked up its 67th national championship. OCU has collected at least one national title per year for 25 years in a row dating back to 1993-94.
OCU took over atop the team leaderboard Thursday after 54 holes. The Stars turned in a ninth-place score to trail by 11 shots after the first round, then moved to third Wednesday. In 2017-18, OCU nabbed seven tournament wins and three second-place finishes in 11 events.
“Obviously I’m very proud of these guys,” said Oklahoma City coach Kyle Blaser, who has directed the Stars to all 11 of their national crowns. “They really didn’t have their best stuff on Tuesday, but gradually got it going. They had some early adversity, but really stayed positive and continued to play to our strengths.”
The Stars finished as the only team under par at 9 shots under on the par-71, 7,066-yard course. OCU fashioned a 290-282-276-279–1,127 over the four days to set the program record for 72-hole total. OCU bested its championship-winning score of 280-288-289-291–1,148 from the 2013 NAIA Championships.
Oklahoma City established a single-season team record for scoring average with its 286.22 average round this season. OCU’s previous season-best stroke average was 288.52 posted in 2013-14. The Stars shot 54-hole tournament record scores in the U.C. Ferguson Classic on Sept. 11-12 (276-271-273–820) and in the Battle at the Primm on March 19-20 in Primm, Nev. (273-263-275–811).
Kaminski, a junior from Johannesburg, South Africa, reeled in his third career NAIA Championships all-tournament award. He delivered a 70-72-66-74–282 and tied for the tournament lead with 19 birdies. Kaminski knocked in birdies on the second, 16th and 17th holes Friday. Throughout the tournament, Kaminski hammered in three birdies on the par-5, 550-yard 17th.
Mendoza and Romero finished knotted for ninth. Mendoza, a senior from Clinton, Okla., posted a 74-68-72-69–283. Mendoza buried 15 birdies, including one each day on No. 13, a par-4, 418-yard hole. Mendoza, a fifth-year senior, contributed to a national championship team in his fourth trip to the NAIA Championships. Mendoza sat out most of the 2015-16 season with an injury.
“I’m so happy for Garrison Mendoza to go out the way he did,” Blaser said of the three-time all-American. “His unbelievable leadership will be irreplaceable. He is one of the best leaders this golf program has ever had.”
Romero, a freshman from Cordoba, Argentina, supplied OCU with a 72-71-70-70–283. Romero drained five birdies in the last round to increase his tournament total to 15 birdies. Romero nailed a birdie on the par-5, 551-yard second hole each round.
Castille chipped in a 74-71-72-71–288. Castille, a freshman from Dallas, sank 13 birdies, including five Friday. Four of Castille’s birdies Friday came on the back nine. He made birdies on the 17th and 18th holes the last two rounds and completed the tournament with three birdies on No. 18, a par-4, 463-yard hole.
“To have four players in the top 15 and Peri’Don just outside is a testament to these guys playing team golf,” Blaser said. “What a great group of young men that treat each other as family.”
During the final round, the temperature in the area rose from the mid-60s to the upper 70s. The wind blew between 10-15 mph.
2018 NAIA Men’s Golf National Championship All-Tournament Team
S.M. Lee, Dalton State (Ga.)
Jack Dyer, Keiser (Fla.)
Rowan Lester, Texas Wesleyan
Mark Johnson, Coastal Georgia
Ben Kendrick, Cumberlands (Ky.)
Andrew Williamson, Wayland Baptist (Texas)
Rupert Kaminski, Oklahoma City
Harrison Stafford, Coastal Georgia
Garrison Mendoza, Oklahoma City
Gaston Romero, Oklahoma City
David Meyers, Oklahoma City
Jake Bauer, Johnson & Wales (Fla.)
Erik Jonasson, Keiser (Fla.)
Blake Vise, Holy Cross (Ind.)
Colton Murphy, Rocky Mountain (Mont.)
Leo Mathard, Texas Wesleyan
Liam Gransden, Keiser (Fla.)
Victor Miron, Texas Wesleyan
Carlos Ardila, Southeastern (Fla.)