Eagles rally to win Heartland Conference, Brictson is medalist

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HORSESHOE BAY, Texas (April 16, 2019) – Oklahoma Christian men’s golf coach David Lynn watched two of his players record triple bogeys near the end of the front nine on Tuesday and figured the Eagles’ chances of winning the Heartland Conference Championship were kaput.

With three holes to go, No. 13-ranked OC still trailed No. 9 St. Mary’s (Texas) by six shots. But the Eagles never quit and Trevor Norby sank a 15-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to give his team a one-shot win at Slick Rock Golf Course and its first conference title in 10 years.

That putt sent Norby into a three-way playoff with teammate Andres Brictson and Hudson Ross of St. Edward’s (Texas), and soon Brictson had his turn to sink a dramatic birdie putt – one that made him the Heartland’s individual champion.

“Today was incredible. There were so many different emotions over the five-hour day,” Lynn said. “I thought we probably couldn’t overcome (the triple bogeys), but this team has won so many tournaments this year by just hanging around and finishing strong and today was no different.”

St. Mary’s posted a Heartland-record team score of 268 in the opening round to take a six-shot lead, but OC closed the gap to one entering the final round. The Rattlers stretched out their lead on the front nine to eight shots and for a long while, it looked like they’d be the ones who would win the last title in the Heartland’s 20-year history.

St. Mary’s posted a team score of 284 (4-under-par) to finish at 841 over three rounds, but OC closed with a 282 for a final score of 840. The tournament win was OC’s fifth of the 2018-19 season, the first time the Eagles have won that many since the 2011-12 season, when they also won five tournaments.

Norby, a junior from Carlsbad, Calif., entered the day holding a two-shot lead over Brictson and a three-shot advantage over Ross. Three straight birdies – on No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 – got Norby to 14-under, but he had back-to-back bogeys at No. 13 and No. 14 to open the door for Brictson and Ross, who both ended their rounds at 13-under 203.

Needing to make a long putt to join them in the playoff – and secure a team win – Norby came through to close out a 2-under-par 70 on the 6,867-yard course. The team lead was the first OC had enjoyed during the tournament.

“To see Trevor bury a 15-foot putt on the last hole, knowing he needed it to get into a playoff, was a feeling I’ll never forget,” Lynn said. “The mental strength Trevor has shown this semester has been so impressive.”

The team title secured, Norby and Brictson turned their attention toward earning a second straight individual title for OC, as current senior Garrett White was the 2018 Heartland champ. The OC duo and Ross played the 389-yard, par-4 No. 1 and Brictson hit his tee shot to within 65 yards of the hole. His approach shot put him about 15 yards from the hole.

Lynn turned to graduate assistant coach Casey Rebmann “and told him (Brictson) was going to nail it, and he did.”

Brictson shot a bogey-free 68 on Tuesday, his second bogey-free round of the tournament. He had only two bogeys over the 54 holes, both in the second round, and won for the second time this spring. The sophomore from Merida, Mexico, earlier won the St. Edward’s Invitational at Onion Creek Club’s North Course in Austin, Texas.

“What can you say about Andres?” Lynn said. “He had two bogey-free rounds this week. That is unreal, to go bogey-free today under that pressure. His focus was laser-like. He was completely unfazed by the moment. I am so incredibly happy for him.”

Brictson said the playoff was his first.

“It went my way and I’m glad it did … but playing against a teammate was kind of weird,” he said. “But you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.

“I was just staying patient, shot by shot, hitting the fairway, putting it on the green and just trying to get away with a couple of birdies here and there. I never knew where I was standing until I was finished. I just knew I had to post something around 14-under and I was one short of that.”

Two other OC players made important contributions Tuesday. White, who struggled while posting an 82 on Monday, rebounded to shoot a 71 in the final round, posting five birdies along the way. He finished 26th at 221. Senior Juan Pallach overcame a triple bogey on No. 8 and had three birdies over five holes on the back nine. His 73 put him at 218, tied for 19th.

“I couldn’t be more proud of how Garrett came back today to shoot 1-under,” Lynn said. “That round was huge for our team. And I am so impressed with the guts Juan showed to play his last nine holes in 3-under.”

OC’s No. 5 player, senior Cameron Brown, closed with an 80 and finished 39th at 229.

The Heartland title was OC’s first in men’s golf and only the fourth by any OC program. The Eagles officially won the 2015 Heartland men’s cross country title and also claim unofficial league titles in men’s cross country (2014) and women’s golf (2015). In men’s golf, OC’s most recent conference title before Tuesday came in 2009, when the Eagles competed in the NAIA’s Sooner Athletic Conference.

OC now will begin preparing for the NCAA Division II South Central-West Super Regional, set for May 6-8 at The Ledges Golf Club in St. George, Utah. The top four finishers in that tournament will advance to the Division II Championship on May 20-24 at The Resort at Glade Springs in Daniels, W.Va.


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