By Murray Evans
PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 25, 2012) – Plenty of Oklahoma Christian golfers have won individual titles in tournaments, helping fuel the Eagles’ tradition of success through the years.
But only two players have done so in a national event, making what Vilhelm Bogstrand accomplished this week in the National Christian College Athletic Association Championship all the more impressive.
The ever-steady Bogstrand led after each round en route to winning the 96-man tournament – which ended Wednesday – with an 8-under-par 208 on the par-72, 6,517-yard layout at The Hombre Golf Club. His closest pursuers were teammates Sam Johnston and Alasdair Dalgliesh, who both finished at 5-under.
Bogstrand joined 2011 NAIA medalist Oscar Stark in the exclusive group of OC individual winners at national tournaments. And like Stark, he fueled a runaway team win. The Eagles took the 2011 NAIA title by 22 shots and won this year’s NCCAA event by an amazing 52 shots, setting school and tournament records for margin of victory.
On Thursday, the Heartland Conference honored Bogstrand with its men’s player of the week award. The senior from Oslo became the third OC player to win the honor this fall, joining Johnston and Jared Consoli. An OC player has taken the Heartland honor after each of the Eagles’ four tournaments so far this fall.
“He plays within himself,” OC coach David Lynn said of Bogstrand. “Every parent whose sons played with him this week came up to me and said what a nice kid he was and what a great golfer he is and how he plays within himself. Those three things are very evident when you watch him play. He’s just a joy to watch. I’m really proud of him to come out his senior year and win a championship like this.”
Bogstrand isn’t a flashy player who will wow spectators with long drives or spectacular shots. Instead, he just hits the ball straight, into the fairway and onto the green, and makes putts. His talents were well-suited for The Hombre, which features narrow fairways, plenty of water hazards and a penal rough full of fallen needles and cones from the pine trees lining the course.
Hit it into the rough and a golfer will find himself in all sorts of trouble. As well as Bogstrand played, even he had issues, especially on the 10th hole, on which he recorded double bogeys in each of the final two rounds.
But instead of panicking, Bogstrand remained steady. After a first-round 66, Bogstrand was at 3-over in Tuesday’s second round – thanks in good part to his double bogey on No. 10 – but rallied with three straight birdies to close his round at even par and remain in the lead.
“He really gutted out his round the last three holes (Tuesday) and after the double bogey (Wednesday) he did the same,” Lynn said. “This golf course sets up phenomenal for Willie. It’s a fairway-to-green golf course and that is Willie’s game to a T.”
Bogstrand briefly dropped into a tie for the lead with Consoli during the final round, but followed his double bogey on No. 10 with a birdie on the par-3 11th hole.
“I had no idea what the scores were, but I figured it would be close,” Bogstrand said. “I figured I had to finish somewhat strong. All of us played really well and I was impressed by all of us.”
The individual win was the third in Bogstrand’s career. He won the Texoma Championship at Chickasaw Pointe Golf Club in Kingston in 2010 and 2011. Bogstrand won’t have much time to enjoy the NCCAA win, as the Eagles will play next Monday and Tuesday in the Crown Classic at Crown Colony Country Club in Lufkin, Texas. OC will be one of only two non-NCAA Division I team in the tournament, which will be hosted by Stephen F. Austin.