HORSESHOE BAY, Texas – The Rogers State men’s golf team rallied in the third round to win the Heartland Conference championship by one shot at the Heartland Conference Tournament Championship at Slick Rock GC at Horseshoe Bay. Oklahoma Christian’s Garrett White nabbed the individual crown.
Trailing by five shots heading into today’s final round, the Hillcats fired a final round of 279 to post a 54-hole total of 845, an RSU school record for a 54-hole tournament by eight strokes. RSU shot 278, an individual round school record, and 288 in the first two rounds to capture RSU’s first-ever Heartland Conference golf championship. RSU edged UA Fort Smith by one as the Lions finished at 846 with a score of 285 in today’s final round.
Freshman Luke Palmowski led the Hillcat charge with a final round score of 5-under-par 67, his best round all season. The 5-under-par 67 ties for third all-time in RSU history for both individual low round and relative to par. With the 67, the freshman moved up four spots on the leaderboard to second at 8-under-par 208 for the 54 holes.
Senior Alex Marsh placed in the top five at 6-under-par 210 after a final round 3-under-par 69 today. Freshman Gonzalo Chaves closed with a 1-under-par 71 in the final round to register a 54-hole total of 1-under-par 215 to place 13th individually. George Burnett provided the final mark for the team score today with his final round of even par 72.
Freshman Aidan Gavey turned in a 17th place performance for the tournament. In the final round today, the Canadian carded a round of 5-over-par 77 to total a 54-hole score of 1-over-par 217.
After RSU in the team standings ranked UAFS at 846. StMU was third at 850, and OC finished fourth at 852. St. Edward’s rounded out the top five at 866.
With the conference championship, the Hillcats will play in the NCAA South Central/West Super Regional on May 7-9 in Amarillo, Texas.
White worked at Horseshoe Bay Resort for a few summers and while doing so, he became intimately familiar with the resort’s Slick Rock Golf Course. That knowledge paid off in a big way on Tuesday for the Oklahoma Christian standout.
The junior from Lindale, Texas, posted the lowest score of the three-day Heartland Conference Championship tournament, a bogey-free 6-under-par 66, and pulled away for a three-shot win to take his first collegiate individual title.
White’s win was the 59th all-time by an OC golfer but the first in a conference tournament since Preston Wilkins took the Sooner Athletic Conference crown in 2011. The win was the first by an OC golfer in any tournament since Sam Johnston won the NCAA Division II South Central-West Super Regional in May 2016.
White’s three-round score of 11-under 205 tied for the seventh-best score in relation to par in OC history. Only three OC players ever have twice posted a double-digit under-par score for a tournament – Bruno Buccolo, Johnston and White, who is in his first season with the Eagles after transferring from Tyler (Texas) Junior College. Buccolo won 10 tournaments and is in the OC Athletic Hall of Fame and Johnston, with seven tournament wins, no doubt will join him when he becomes eligible in a few years.
Only three OC athletes in any sport have won a Heartland individual title – White and cross country runners Roberto Diaz (2013) and Brennym Kaelin (2015).
Despite a stellar final-round team score of 282 – fueled by White and fellow junior Cameron Brown, who shot at 69 – OC actually fell one spot to fourth in the nine-team race, because St. Mary’s (Texas) posted a sizzling 274 (14-under) and edged the Eagles by two shots.
St. Mary’s (second), OC (fourth), UAFS (fifth) and St. Edward’s (ninth) all entered the Heartland tournament in the Division II South Central Region top 10. The region’s top 10 teams will advance into the Super Regional and OC will certainly be among that group.
White began the tournament by going 8-under – with four birdies and two eagles – in his first 10 holes in Sunday’s first round before cooling a bit to finish at 2-under 70. His 69 on Monday put him in third place, two shots back of Parker Jennings of Arkansas-Fort Smith and one behind Jennings’ teammate, Chris Eckes.
White started at No. 10 on Tuesday and birdied the par-5 No. 12 and the par-3 No. 13, moving him to 7-under for the tournament. On the front nine of the 6,867-yard course, he went on another birdie run, with four in six holes at the par-4 No. 1, the par-5 No. 3, the par-4 No. 4 and the par-4 No. 6.
That put him well clear of the field. Luke Palmowki of Rogers State (who shot a final-round 67) and Emilio Gonzalez (68) tied for second at 213, with Eckes fourth at 209 and Jennings tied for fifth.
Brown, meanwhile moved onto the leaderboard with four birdies in his first five holes, and eventually finished tied for ninth in the 45-man field at 211.
OC freshman Andres Brictson played a steady round, with two birdies and three bogeys, and his 73 put him in a tie for 17th at 217. Junior Juan Pallach turned in a 74 that included a pair of birdies and he tied for 28th at 223. Another junior, Ethan Smith, shot a final-round 80 and finished 37th at 227, closing strong with three birdies in his final seven holes.
The Eagles next will turn their attention to the Super Regional, which will be played May 7-9 at La Paloma Golf Course in Amarillo, Texas. OC finished fourth among 23 teams in the South Central-West Regional Preview played on that course in mid-March.