By Murray Evans
PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 22, 2013) – Oklahoma Christian didn’t play its best golf on Tuesday, but the Eagles did enough to put themselves right in the middle of the mix for what could be a wild finish at the National Christian College Athletic Association Championship.
Entering the day facing an eight-shot deficit, the Eagles watched it grow to double digits for a time but held it together. At the end of the day, their team score of 1-under-par 287 left them at 3-over 576 after two rounds, one shot behind Lee (Tenn.) and in a tie for second with Dallas Baptist (Texas) and Colorado Christian. Southern Wesleyan (S.C.) was another three shots back.
A second straight NCCAA title for OC would be well within reach with a good round Wednesday on The Hombre Golf Club’s Bad and Ugly courses.
“It’s going to be crazy,” OC coach David Lynn said. “You can lose a bunch of shots real quick out here. That’s this type of golf course. That’s why the PGA Tour plays out here for Q School. It requires demand on every shot. I’m looking forward to that. I think that’s going to play to our advantage, hopefully, tomorrow, with some extra pressure. I’m looking forward to seeing how the guys do.”
The Eagles also have a pair of contenders for the individual title, too. On an overcast and sometimes drizzly day, Sam Johnston fired the low round, a 5-under-par 67 on the 6,410-yard layout to leave him at 4-under 140 for the tournament, tied for second behind Zach Moore of Southern Wesleyan.
Johnston recorded eight birdies, including four in a row from No. 14 to No. 17, and just missed another birdie putt on No. 18.
“His final nine holes last year in the final round he shot 5- or 6-under, so he just absolutely loves those nine holes,” Lynn said. “He did step up. We needed that, obviously. That’s fantastic. Sixty-seven is a great score around this golf course.”
Two shots behind Johnston, in sixth place, was OC junior Taylor Williams, who shot an even-par 72 – a round that included three birdies and three bogeys. Also shooting 72 was senior Alasdair Dalgliesh, who moved up the leaderboard to 2-over 146 and was tied for 15th in the 96-man field.
Trey Payne overcame a triple bogey on the par-4 No. 8 and finished at 76, which proved important, as Johnny Ellis – who had played steady golf most of the day – recorded consecutive double bogeys on No. 16 and No. 17. Ellis finished with a 77 and was tied for 67th at 157, while Payne was tied for 36th at 151.
Dallas Baptist entered the second round with the lead and the Patriots extended it for a while before running into trouble on their second nine holes. OC never made it to the lead, but also never fell below fifth place before settling for a tie for second.
Johnston and Dalgliesh were on OC’s team last year and tied for runner-up honors behind their now-departed teammate, Vilhelm Bogstrand. That experience could be key on Wednesday, Lynn said.
“It was another roller-coaster day,” Lynn said. “But the bottom line is, we’re here with 18 holes to play and we’re within a shot of the lead. … I’ve got some guys with some experience, the guys that were here last year and won, and we’ve been in the hunt three out of the five tournaments we’ve played in this fall. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the guys perform tomorrow.”