Oklahoma City climbs into fourth in NAIA Championship

Photo: Stites enters final round three shots off individual pace.

MESA, Ariz. – Oklahoma City University moved up to fourth place in the NAIA men’s golf championships Thursday at Las Sendas Golf Club.

The second-ranked Stars trail team leader Texas Wesleyan by 20 shots, but also stand seven strokes out of second place with one round left. The final 18 holes begin 9:30 a.m. CDT (7:30 a.m. MDT) Friday, while OCU’s round starts 10:20 a.m. CDT (8:20 a.m. MDT).

Oklahoma City’s Ty Stites sat three strokes off the individual pace after 54 holes. Jack Madden of OCU climbed into a tie for 11th place to put himself in position to earn all-tournament acclaim.

The defending national champion Stars boasted of the best team round of the day with a 284. OCU has accrued a 306-300-284–890 on the par-71, 6,925-yard Hilly Desert Course. Texas Wesleyan leads the tournament with a 293-283-294–870.

“We made a great effort to climb the leaderboard on moving day,” OCU coach Andy Crabtree said. “Ty Stites was under par all day and stayed patient. Jack Madden played gritty today. He held his round together with several clutch up and downs to save par. We look forward to taking today’s momentum into the final round and finishing strong.”

Stites, a sophomore from Sallisaw, Okla., held third place with a 72-74-68–214. Madden and Stites provided OCU with two of the seven rounds among the field breaking 70 Thursday. Stites knocked in four birdies, including three on par-5 holes, during the third round. Stites has drained 11 birdies this week. He had one bogey on the day. He ranks among the tournament leaders with 35 par scores.

Madden has accumulated a 76-72-69–217 through three rounds. Madden, a freshman from Dungannon, Northern Ireland, Ireland, hammered in four birdies, all on the front nine. He converted a birdie on the par-5, 532-yard sixth hole. Madden recorded two bogeys Thursday. He has made par 34 times over the tournament.

The Stars’ Peri’Don Castille contributed an 80-79-70–229. Castille, a junior from Dallas, canned five birdies on the day with three coming on par-5 holes – the par-5, 564-yard second hole, No. 6 and the par-5, 591-yard 15th hole.

Carson Seals supplied OCU with a 78-75-77–230. Seals, a junior from Ardmore, Okla., made birdie on the par-3, 194-yard No. 3. Seals tops the field with 36 par scores during the tournament.

Brandon Strathe, a sophomore from Owasso, Okla., had an 88-80-80–248. Strathe has made par 32 times this week.

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Ken MacLeod

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