Oklahoma Christian, UCO in position to advance in D-II National Championship

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Oklahoma Christian opened up a nine-stroke lead over West Florida through two rounds of the NCAA Division II National Championship at Orange County National Golf Center in Winter Garden, Fla.

Exequiel Rodriguez shot consecutive rounds of 2-under 69 and Blas Ayesa shot 67-71 to pace the Eagles, they are tied for fifth place individually.

Central Oklahoma moved up to fourth place through two rounds as Jordan Wilson (69-71) and Nick Canales (71-69) are tied for 12th place.

The Bronchos played the final five holes at 5-under-par to polish off a two-under 282 round, moving them from sixth to fourth in the 20-team field with a five-under 563 total. The top eight teams after Thursday’s final round of stroke play advance to match play that determines the national champion.

No. 6-ranked Oklahoma Christian leads the way with a 552 total after two trips around the rugged 7,419-yard, par-72 Orange County National Golf Center, nine shots ahead of No. 5 Colorado Christian and No. 9 West Florida. No. 16 UCO is next, followed by West Texas A&M (566), Coker (567), Wingate (569) and No. 4 Grand Valley State (569).

Final-round action begins at 8:30 a.m. Thursday. The top eight teams advance, with the quarterfinals and semifinals set for Friday and the national title match Saturday.

Nick Canales paced the Bronchos in the second round with a two-under 69, while Jordan Wilson, Bennett Baldwin and Baylor Bostick all shot even-par 71. Kyle Hickey had a 77 that didn’t count in the team score.

“We were pretty up-and-down today, but really finished strong and that was the key,” head coach Derrick Thompson said. “I was really proud of the guys for hanging in there the way they did. We were clutch down the stretch and that has us in a good position, though we’ll have to play well again tomorrow.”

Canales and Wilson are tied for 11th in the individual standings at two-under 140, while Baldwin is tied for 20th at one-under 141. The individual national champion is decided after 54 holes, with WTAMU’s Wyatt Provence holding a three-shot lead in that race at nine-under 133.

Canales birdied the par-5 fourth and par-3 sixth in getting off to a two-under start, then bogeyed No. 7 in making the turn at one-under 35. The redshirt freshman dropped back to even with a bogey on No. 12, but responded with birdies on the par-5 14th and par-4 16th before finishing with two pars for a back-nine 35.

Wilson bogeyed the first two holes, then offset a birdie on the par-5 fourth with a bogey on No. 8 in making the turn at two-over 37. The junior was still at plus-two headed to the final three holes, but birdied the par-4 16th and 18th holes in closing out a back-nine 34.

Baldwin had a pair of bogeys in the first six holes before birdieing the 217-yard, par-3 eighth in shooting a front-nine 36. The junior dropped to two-over with a bogey on No. 12, then rallied with birdies on both par-5s down the stretch to card a closing 35.

Bostick started the day with a bogey, but used birdies on Nos. 4, 5 and 8 in making the turn at two-under 34. The rookie parred the first three holes on the back nine, fell back to even par with bogeys on Nos. 13 and 15 and then ended with three straight backs for a back-nine 37.


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Ken MacLeod

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