LAS CRUCES, N.M. (May 3, 2016) – Through two rounds of Oklahoma Christian’s NCAA Division II men’s golf postseason debut, it’s been a success story, one the Eagles want to continue to enjoy for at least one more day.
OC faltered a bit early on Tuesday but rebounded to hold the lead for a second straight day in the West-South Central Super Regional at University Golf Club. The Eagles posted their second straight team score of 286 (2-over-par) and are at 572, one shot ahead of No. 1-ranked Chico State (Calif.) and nine up on California State-Monterey Bay and Brigham Young-Hawaii.
Ten of the 20 teams competing are within 15 shots of the lead entering the tournament’s final round on Wednesday. The top five team finishers will advance to the NCAA Championships, to be played May 17-21 at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club in Denver. This is the first year in which OC has been eligible for the NCAA postseason.
The Eagles also have two players in the hunt for the individual crown in senior Sam Johnston and freshman Alejandro Valenzuela. Johnston posted his second straight 1-under 70 on the 7,162-yard course and trails Josh Aguilar of Dallas Baptist (Texas) by one shot.
Jordan Koelewyn of Stanislaus State (Calif.) is tied with Johnston, and Valenzuela is another shot back at 141 after shooting a 70 on Tuesday. He’s tied for fourth with two other players.
Johnston and Valenzuela each finished strong. Johnston had three birdies over his final nine holes, while Valenzuela had four as part of an up-and-down round in which he recorded seven birdies, four bogeys and a double bogey.
Another OC freshman, Ethan Smith, rebounded from a frustrating first-round 78 to also shoot 70, giving the Eagles three players under par for the round. Smith had four birdies on the day and moved into a tie for 42nd in the 106-man field.
"Today we struggled a bit out of the gate," OC coach David Lynn said. "We were 4- or 5-over early and hung tough. We really played well on the last five holes on our back nine. The guys are sticking to their game plan, putting the ball in play and staying very patient on the greens. To finish 2-over is a great day and puts us in position to compete tomorrow.
"Ethan gave us a great comeback round today. Having all five guys competing and hanging tough is what we try to be about. We know we have a great chance if we can do that."
OC’s other two players, freshman Juan Pallach and sophomore Zac Schaefer, both shot a 76 in the second round. Pallach was tied with Smith at 148, while Schaefer is tied for 52nd at 149.
The Eagles will be paired Wednesday with Chico State and California State-Monterey Bay and will tee off between 1:50 and 2:30 p.m. Central time.