Bronchos remain in fifth, Oklahoma Christian drops into 11th, match play in peril

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 DENVER (May 18, 2016) -Logan Gray and Eric Kline shot a combined 7-under-par to pace Central Oklahoma on the second day of the NCAA Division II Men’s Golf Championships here Wednesday as the Bronchos stayed in fifth place in the team standings.

Gray fired a 4-under 68 and Kline added a 3-under 69 for UCO, which ended with a 7-under 281 in finishing two trips around the 7,327-yard, par-72 Green Valley Ranch Golf Course with a 570 total.

St. Leo leads the 20-team field at 551, followed by Chico State (562), Barry (565), Florida Southern (568) and the Bronchos.  The final round of stroke play starts at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, with the top eight teams advancing to the match-play portion of the tournament to determine the national champion.

None of UCO’s five-player team shot over par as the Bronchos made a combined 23 birdies on the day. Cody Troutman, Eli Armstrong and Russ Purser all shot even-par 72s to back up the under-par rounds of Gray and Kline.

Gray, who shot a 77 in Tuesday’s first round, had seven birdies on the day.  The senior made the turn at one-under 35 and then came back with a three-under 33 in finishing with the 68.

Kline had a front-nine 36 before getting things going on the closing nine, making four birdies in a back-nine 33.

Oklahoma Christian struggled to find traction during the second round on Wednesday.

As a result, if the Eagles want to play for a national championship on the tournament’s final two days, they’ll have some heavy lifting to do during the third round. OC’s second-round team score of 295 (7-over-par) dropped the Eagles from seventh to 11th in the 20-team field.

The top eight squads after Thursday’s round will advance to match play to determine the team champion, and OC – with a 9-over 585 score through two rounds – is six shots behind eighth-place California Baptist.

No one played terrible for the Eagles, as all five players shot between 70 and 76 on the par-72, 7,327-yard course. But no one took advantage of optimal scoring conditions – temperatures in the high 50s and low 60s with partly cloudy skies and little wind. While every OC player made at least two birdies, there were plenty of bogeys (or worse) on everyone’s scorecard as well.

"Obviously, on what is known as a Chamber of Commerce day … we kind of shot ourselves in the foot," OC coach David Lynn said. "Just struggled. I don’t really have a good reason why. You couldn’t have it being a better day for golf. That’s why you saw all the teams shooting under-par and the scores so low. To be 7-over today is certainly 10 to 15 shots worse than yesterday, with the conditions added in.

"The silver lining is we’ll be six shots out of a spot in the top eight, which still leaves us within reach of our goal to get ourselves into match play. We’re going to have to have the back end of our lineup play some golf. They just haven’t done it yet. … They know that. That’s OK. It wasn’t like we went out and had the worst round of the year. I think we just didn’t play very solid. That’s kind of where we ended."

Senior Sam Johnston, coming off an individual title in the West-South Central Super Regional, overcame illness to post OC’s only under-par round, a 70 that left him at even-par 144 for the tournament, tied for 28th in the 108-man field. But Johnston was 4-under with four holes to play before stumbling a bit down the stretch.

On the leaderboard, the Eagles’ highest player is freshman Alejandro Valenzuela. He shot a 1-over 73 and is 2-under for the tournament, tied for 21st but 11 shots back of the leader, Hugo Bernard of St. Leo (Fla.). If the Eagles are fortunate enough to finish eighth after Thursday’s round, St. Leo would probably await in match play, as it opened up an 11-shot lead over second-place Chico State (Calif.).

OC’s three other players – sophomore Zac Schaefer and freshmen Ethan Smith and Juan Pallach – each posted a 76. Schaefer is tied for 59th individually at 148, with Smith tied for 73rd (151) and Pallach tied for 96th (156).

"It was just a bad day," Lynn said. "I’m not going to beat them up about it. I never saw anybody hanging their head or mad or angry or doing anything that would lead me to believe that they weren’t giving it their very best. We talk about that all the time and I’ve been pleased with them so far. I think that’s why we usually play well in tough conditions, because they’re just grinding.

"Tomorrow, if we’re going to be successful, we’ve got to come out and get 2- or 3-under early as a team and put some pressure on some people and get in some rhythm. We just haven’t been able to find our rhythm."

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Ken MacLeod

Publisher Golf Oklahoma | Oklahoma's No. 1 Golf Source

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