OKLAHOMA CITY (March 22, 2016) â€“ Golf protocol called for Oklahoma Christian’s Zac Schaefer to be careful with his 40-foot, downhill birdie putt in high winds on Tuesday on No. 12 at Gaillardia Country Club. But the way his putter was feeling, he decided to take a chance.
The sophomore from Edmond sank the putt for one of four birdies he recorded en route to a final-round 2-over-par 74 that gave him his first collegiate win by a dominating four-shot margin. The last of those birdies came on No. 18 and lifted the Eagles to a one-shot win over tournament host Central Oklahoma in the Broncho Invitational.
Battling a south wind that routinely blew at 25-30 mph and gusted up to 41 mph, OC posted a team score of 310 to close a seven-shot gap against No. 24-ranked UCO. The Eagles, with a two-day score of 631, also downed NCAA Division II’s No. 10-ranked team, Central Missouri, which finished sixth in the 16-team field at 654.
OC posted its first tournament win since September 2014, when the Eagles won the National Christian College Athletic Association Central Region title, despite being without reigning Heartland Conference player of the year Sam Johnston, who was playing at a Canadian PGA Tour qualifying event in Florida. The Eagles won with a lineup of one sophomore and four freshmen.
"I’m incredibly proud of the way we played the past two days," OC coach David Lynn said. "The wind blowing a steady 30 mph both days was a tremendous adversity to overcome. Our kids showed incredible heart and focus to fight all the way to 18 both days and never gave up.
"To see Zac get his first victory in front of his family and teammates was extremely satisfying. He has continued to improve every week and to battle those conditions like he did was amazing."
Schaefer started the day one shot behind co-leaders Eric Kline and Eli Armstrong of UCO. Kline shot an 84 to slip to 10th in the 93-man field, while Armstrong posted and 87 and dropped into a tie for 22nd.
Schaefer’s main competition on Tuesday proved to be UCO’s Cody Troutman, who entered the day in fourth place and shot a 77 to stay in the running and eventually finish second. Schaefer was at even-par through seven holes before a rough three-hole stretch â€“ a double bogey at No. 8, a bogey at No. 9 and another double bogey on No. 10.
But he rebounded by sinking a 20-foot birdie putt at No. 11 before making the gutsy birdie putt at No. 12. After five straight pars, he capped his round with a flourish with the birdie at No. 18, allowing the Eagles to avoid a potential playoff with UCO.
Freshman Manuel Hernandez gave OC another top-10 finisher, as he placed sixth after shooting a 77 on the 7,136-yard layout to finish at 158 overall. Alejandro Valenzuela tied for 12th at 162 after posting an 84.
OC’s two other starters were Juan Pallach, who tied for 33rd at 165 after firing an 80, and Ethan Smith, who tied for 51st at 169 after posting a 79.
Four Eagles played the tournament as individuals. Chris Karlovich led that group, shooting a final-round 87 to close at 171, tied for 57th. Casey Rebmann tied for 81st at 178 after posting a 91, Ryan Trousdale tied for 85th at 181 after posting an 89 and Ty Tamura tied for 91st at 185 after posting an 88.
The Eagles’ next tournament will be the St. Edward’s Invitational, to be played next Monday and Tuesday at Onion Creek Club in Austin, Texas.
For UCO, Troutman had a final-round 77 to pace the Bronchos, who fired a closing 318 to finish two trips around the rugged Gaillardia Country Club with a 632 total. Southwestern Oklahoma was third in the 16-team event with a 639 total, followed by Lindenwood (647) and Southeastern Oklahoma (649).
Troutmanâ€™s 77 tied for the third-best score of the day, with the Bronchos also getting a 78 from Russ Purser and a 79 from Logan Gray. Eric Kline added an 84 and Eli Armstrong an 87.
UCO also had four individuals competing, with Cody Shore shooting 81, Alberto Nava 85, Wesley Jackson 85 and Gavin Mastell 89.
Troutman made a tournament-best 24 pars and ended with a 155 total in the highest finish of his UCO career. The sophomore made the turn at over-over 37 and was 2-over on the back nine before bogeying the last two holes for a closing 40.
Purser also had a front-nine 37 and got to even par with a birdie on the par-4 10th, but gave six shots back in the next five holes en route to a back-nine 41.
Gray closed out his 79 with a birdie on the par-5 18th.
The Bronchos donâ€™t play again until going to Miami Shores, Fla. April 4-5 for the Buccaneer Invitational.
Stefan Idstam, Jake Duvall and Joby Gray all finished tied for seventh or higher to lift SWOSU inot third place. Duvall and Gray were the only Bulldog golfers to card a round in the 70’s on Monday, while Idstam fired the low round of the entire tournament on Tuesday to move himself into the top five.
Idstam shot an 83 on Monday, but improved by 10 strokes in the second round for a two-round total of 156 (+12), a mark that tied him for third place individually. Duvall and Gray both shot rounds in the 70’s on Monday and 80’s on Tuesday as both found themselves tied for seventh place at the tournament with a two-day stroke count of 159 (+15).
Marques Gomez carded rounds of 82 and 84, placing tied for 36th with a 166 stroke total, seven shots ahead of Nicolas Cornu, who shot an 83 on Tuesday for a seven-shot improvement from Monday and finished tied for 65th.
SWOSU Men’s Golf returns to action on April 4-5 in Pensacola, Florida at the Argonaut Invitational, hosted by West Florida University.