By Murray Evans
PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 22, 2012) – On a course that rewards steady players, Oklahoma Christian seniors Vilhelm Bogstrand and Logan Herbst – who fit that description to a T – both thrived on Monday during the first round of the NCCAA Championship.
As a result, the Eagles were in good shape, jumping to 10-shot lead over Union (Tenn.) on a crystal-clear day at The Hombre Golf Club. OC was the only one of 18 teams in the tournament to finish under par, posting a team score of 8-under 280.
Bogstrand, from Oslo, fired a 6-under 66 on the 6,517-yard layout, good for the overall lead, one shot ahead of Shane Gleason of Roberts Wesleyan (N.Y.). Herbst, from Fairview, was fourth after shooting a 3-under 69.
Only 10 of the 96 players shot under par on a sunny day with temperatures in the 70s and three of those 10 were from OC – Bogstrand, Herbst and Jared Consoli, who shot a 71 and was tied for seventh.
“We had a pretty specific game plan for this golf course – be conservative, but be aggressive with our conservative play,” OC coach David Lynn said. “This golf course sets up awesome for Vilhelm and Logan. It just does. Put it in play, put it on the green, give yourself putts. The greens aren’t very big but if you put it on the green, you give yourself a reasonable chance for a birdie. ”
With its penal rough and liberal use of water hazards, The Hombre puts a premium on hitting the ball straight into tight fairways and then onto the green, not on spectacular shots. Bogstrand missed just one fairway and recorded his only bogey on that hole, the par-4 No. 14. But by hitting the ball on the green in regulation, he had numerous birdie chances and successfully converted seven of them.
On the course’s four par-5 holes, he birdied three of them.
“I got off to a good start,” Bogstrand said. “I birdied two of the first three holes, and it went well from there. I didn’t make any mistakes. That was pretty much it. It was one of those days when it felt kind of easy. Things were just going my way, I guess.”
Herbst also had only one bogey, that on the par-4 No. 8, and he birdied two of the par-5s. Consoli overcame a double bogey on No. 8 – the Eagles’ next-to-last hole, as they started on No. 10 – with a closing birdie on the par-4 No. 9.
OC junior Alasdair Dalgliesh shot a 2-over 74 and was tied for 22nd. The Eagles’ No. 1 player, Sam Johnston, struggled at times en route to a 75 and was tied for 29th. But Lynn gave credit to Johnston, a freshman from San Diego.
“For us to be able to come to the national tournament and throw out Sam’s score for our team, it’s great,” Lynn said. “Eight under as a team and we throw his score out? That’s great. That’s what he’s done to our team – elevated the play of those other guys, from the way he played in the first three tournaments this fall.”
In the team race, only five teams broke the 300 mark during the first round – OC, Union, Roberts Wesleyan (293), Malone (Ohio) (295) and OC’s Heartland Conference rival, Dallas Baptist (Texas) (299). Lynn said it’s a good sign that his team has started strong, with a double-digit lead after one round.
“We still made mistakes,” Lynn said. “Jared had a double (bogey). Ali had a triple. If we can tighten up a little bit tomorrow, I think we can play a little bit better. We’ll just take it shot-for-shot again tomorrow and try to execute the game plan again.”