Sooners rally to defend title in Puerto Rico, four OU golfers in top 10

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Final results:

RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico — Powered by the day’s lowest round, the ninth-ranked Oklahoma men’s golf team surged up the leaderboard to win its second consecutive Puerto Rico Classic on Tuesday.

The Sooners (1, -30) fired a 272 (-16) in the final round to overtake East Tennessee State’s (2, -25) 36-hole lead, win by five shots and notch their second win of the season. Four Sooners finished inside the top 10 on the individual leaderboard, with Ben Lorenz finishing as the runner-up.

“Today was definitely what we had envisioned,” head coach Ryan Hybl said. “Yesterday, we were better than we were in the first round, and then today was our best round all week. It’s great to see us get better each day and we’ll just build from here. Winning golf tournaments is something that is truly special. It never gets old and we definitely don’t take it for granted.”

Lorenz (T2, -10), who played the event as an individual, was strong all week at the 54-hole event played at Grand Reserve Golf Club. He posted rounds of 67-68-71 at the par-72 course and was the tournament’s leader after day two. The runner-up finish marked the best of the OU junior’s college career, topping a T13 finish at the 2020 Maridoe Collegiate.

Stephen Campbell Jr. (T5, -9) was Oklahoma’s low round of the day, signing for a 66 (-6) that pushed OU in front. Thru 15 holes in Tuesday’s last round, Campbell Jr. had posted seven birdies with no bogeys and shared second place. A bogey on his next-to-last hole pushed him into fifth, matching the best finish of his career.

Sharing fifth with Campbell Jr. was sophomore Drew Goodman (T5, -9), whose 68 got the Sooners across the finish line and into the winner’s circle. After opening his week with a 71 on Sunday, the Norman, Okla., product fired back-to-back 68s to notch his seventh top-10 finish in 17 collegiate events.

All-American senior Patrick Welch (T8, -8) finished in a tie for eighth after carding a 70 (-2) in the final round. The Aliso Viejo, Calif., product had surged into second after three birdies on his front nine, but a 1-over par back nine dropped him into eighth for his 12th top-10 finish.

Playing unattached, Jaxon Dowell (-3) finished in a tie for 28th after posting three rounds of par or better. Jake Holbrook (T49, +2) was a difference maker for Hybl’s squad Tuesday, firing a 68 (-4) to move 16 spots up the leaderboard into a tie for 49th. Luke Kluver finished in 63rd after posting a 77 (+5) on Tuesday.

The Sooners led the 13-team field in par-3 scoring, firing a 7-under mark for the week. They finished second on par-5 holes, posting a 4.67 average and a 20-under par number. Oklahoma finished third in made pars (180) and birdies (55), led by Ben Lorenz’s 15 birdies on the week.

The team title marked the Sooners’ second consecutive at the Puerto Rico Classic, as last year’s Sooner squad posted a school-record 59-under par to win the 2022 event. After winning the Ka’anapali Classic to close the fall slate, OU has now won back-to-back events, marking the sixth year in a row that OU has gone on a winning streak. Tuesday’s victory marked the 37th win of the Ryan Hybl era, which started in 2009.

One of the toughest tests in college golf awaits the Sooners as the team heads to Las Vegas Feb. 26-28 for the Southern Highlands Collegiate, an event Oklahoma won last year by seven strokes.

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Ken MacLeod

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