Photo: OC’s Juan Pallach tees off on No. 18 on Tuesday in the Great American Conference Preview at Lake Hefner North. Pallach tied for second, a career-best finish for the junior.
OKLAHOMA CITY (Sept. 12, 2017) – With wide fairways and large, receptive greens, the primary defense of the course at Lake Hefner Golf Club is Oklahoma’s famous wind. When it doesn’t blow – and it didn’t much on Tuesday – good players can take advantage.
Oklahoma Christian’s players certainly did during the Great American Conference Preview on the club’s North Course. Led by top-10 finishes from Juan Pallach, Garrett White and Cameron Brown, the Eagles sizzled, posting a final-round team score of 16-under-par 272 to win the tournament by four shots over Southeastern Oklahoma State and host Southern Nazarene.
For the two-day, three-round tournament, OC was a whopping 40 shots under par – the Eagles’ 824 total was their lowest tournament score ever for a three-round event. The 16-under score on Tuesday was the program’s second-lowest score ever in relation to par, one day after the Eagles produced a 15-under round, which now is No. 3 on that list.
Oh – it also was OC’s first tournament win since March 2016, when the Eagles captured the Broncho Invitational at Gaillardia Country Club. The tradition-rich Eagles failed to win at least one tournament during the 2016-17 campaign, ending a two-decade-long streak, and coach David Lynn was glad to see his team back in the win column.
“It’s nice to come out and win one right off the bat,” Lynn said. “We had 11 guys playing out there and they were really together as a unit. It was impressive to see. We didn’t get off to a great start with the ‘A’ team but they were 31-under the last two rounds. That was impressive.
“The golf course is good, the greens are good and we just got no wind for two days in Oklahoma, which never happens, almost. The weather was perfect and the guys were actually pretty sharp. I was a little bit dumbfounded at the scores. … It was really great to see.”
Pallach, a junior from Mexico City, put together one of the finest individual performances in OC history, closing with a 6-under 66 on Tuesday to finish at 15-under 201, good for a tie for second in the 56-man field. It was the fourth-best score in relation to par in OC history, and the three players ahead of him on that list – Bruno Buccolo, Juan Lizzaralde and Sam Johnston – won a combined 26 tournaments during their storied careers.
Pallach had 15 birdies and two eagles during the GAC Preview.
“Juan has looked great,” Lynn said. “He looked great in (team) qualifying. He looked great all three rounds. He was 3-under, 6-under, 6-under. He wasn’t missing many shots and he was making putts. He’s come back for his junior season and obviously he’s ready to go.”
One shot behind Pallach, tied for fourth at 202, was junior Garrett White, who was making his OC debut after transferring from Tyler (Texas) Junior College. White, the co-leader after the second round, shot a 3-under 69 on the 6,970-yard course on Tuesday and finished the tournament with 18 birdies.
White’s former teammate at Tyler, Brown, matched Pallach with a 66 and tied for eighth at 207. OC’s No. 4 player Tuesday, senior Chris Karlovich, contributed a 71 and tied for 27th at 216, recording 14 birdies along the way. Junior Ethan Smith shot a 73 and tied for 30th at 218.
It wasn’t only the Eagles’ “A” team that played well. Two of OC’s “B” team players finished in the top 12 – junior Ryan Trousdale (11th) and freshman Andres Brictson(tied for 12th). Trousdale’s 2-under 70 left him at 209, while Brictson shot a 73 and closed at 210. Both had 14 birdies during the tournament.
Another OC freshman, Pablo Duster, shot a final-round 72 and finished tied for 25th at 215. Other “B” team players were freshmen Reese Gorman (tied for 30th after a 74) and Jackson Phillips (54th at 233 after shooting an 81). Playing as an individual, junior Grady Neal posted a 70 in the final round and tied for 38th at 220.
Southeastern’s Hayden Foster won by three shots over Pallach and Foster’s teammate, Zach James.
Southern Nazarene had three players inside the top 10 and four inside the top 15. Rhett Bechtel, Brady Liles and Jacob Prentice went sixth, seventh and eighth. Bechtel shot a 68 in the final round for a 205 while Liles fired a 69 to finish at 206. Prentice was just a shot back at 207 as he matched Liles with a 69. Ondrej Melichar notched a 68 as well in the final round to finish in in a tie for 12th at 210. Tristan Florance rounded out the top five with a 227 after a 79 in the final round as he tied for 49th.