Oklahoma Christian rolls at Shangri-La, UCO’s Canales shatters records

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MONKEY ISLAND, Okla. – Oklahoma Christian opened the fall season with a dominant performance, including one of the best team rounds in the history of the program, during the final round of the MSSU Men’s Fall Invitational at Shangri-La Resort Tuesday.

OC placed three players in the top five individuals en route to the team championship, shooting 36-under-par over the team’s three rounds, 12 shots ahead of second place Henderson State.

The individual champion was Nick Canales of Central Oklahoma, who fired a 10-under 62 in the final round after opening with consecutive rounds of 68 and won by five shots over Leandro Mihaich of Oklahoma Christian. His performance lifted UCO into third place.

Mihaich made his Eagles debut, carding rounds of 67, 69, and 67 to finish with a three-round total of 203 (-13), which was good for second overall as an individual. Mihaich had 17 birdies to lead the Eagles and added an eagle in his final round.

Oskari Nikku turned in seven birdies and one of his two eagles of the tournament during his final round to shoot -7 and finish in fourth place at eleven-under-par overall.

Reigning Lone Star Conference Player of the Year, Exequiel Rodriguez opened his junior campaign with rounds of 70, 71, and 65, shooting -10 and finishing right behind Nikku in fifth place. Santiago Villareal turned in two 73s and a 69 while finishing T32 at 1-under-par, and Verrti Perala, last week’s Lone Star Conference Men’s Golfer of the Week, finished T52 with a low round of 71 in his second round.

“Going into this season’s first event we had high expectations,” said OC coach David Lynn. “It was great to see the guys in action after six weeks of practice. I’m extremely proud of how the guys played today with the pressure of the lead. They kept the gas pedal down all day. That says everything you need to know about their expectations. I was very impressed.”

It didn’t take long for Canales to etch his name into the Central Oklahoma golf record book.

Playing in his second tournament for the Bronchos, the redshirt freshman fired a blistering 10-under-par 62 in the final round. tying school single-round records for low score and most under par, both set by former All-American Todd Dayton in 2006, and his 18-under 198 total broke the previous marks of 15-under and 201 held by Colby Shrum.

“Nick hit it close all day and was just on fire,” head coach Derrick Thompson said. “It was an amazing performance and a lot of fun to watch. I was proud of the way our guys came back the last two rounds after getting off to a slow start. We finished strong.”

The Bronchos were 10th after in the first round, moved up to sixth when play was halted by darkness Monday evening and jumped up to third by the end of the tournament.

UCO had rounds of 293-277-274 in finishing three trips around the 6,840-yard, par-72 Heritage and Legends nines at Shangri-La Golf Resort with a 20-under 844 total. The final-round 14-under 274 is the second-lowest round to par in school history.

The Bronchos had two others finish under par, with Evan Griffith at three-under 213 with rounds of 74-71-68 and Dylan Henderson at two-under 214 after shooting 75-67-72. Bennett Baldwin finished at 220 (76-72-72) and Baylor Bostick 223 (76-71-76), while Ross Taylor shot 75-70-79 – 224 as an individual medalist.

Among the finishes by other state schools, Rogers State placed sixth, Cameron 11th, Southwestern Oklahoma State tied for 15th with Northwestern Oklahoma State, Southeast Oklahoma State was 18th and Southern Nazarene 19th.

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Ken MacLeod

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