Men's golf captures second national championship
SILVIS, Ill. (May 27, 2011) – The Oklahoma Christian men’s golf team captured the 2011 NAIA Men’s Golf National Championship on Friday behind individual champion Oscar Stark and runner-up Axel Ochoa.
Following the third round of the tournament on Thursday, the Eagles led by an astonishing 23 strokes as they blazed the competition. In Friday’s final round, OC shot its way to a 293 fourth-round score to finish 22 strokes ahead of runner-up British Columbia.
The Eagles took the lead in the first round with a three-under 281 and never looked back over the next three rounds. The final tournament score of 1150 gave the Eagles their second national championship, with their previous championship occurring just two years ago in 2009. The Eagles finished second in 2010 behind Oklahoma City University, but beat the No. 1 squad by 49 strokes this year.
The championship is the third in OC’s history, following the men’s tennis team in 2003 and the men’s golf team in 2009. Despite being only the second championship for the men’s golf squad, the Eagles have earned top-four finishes at the national tournament in each of the last 12 years.
“It is an amazing feeling to win after all of our close finishes,” head coach David Lynn said. “It was a very special year. We worked incredibly hard to prepare for this event, and to win in the fashion we did was extremely satisfying.”
Oscar Stark held the lead wire-to-wire following a first-round 67 at four under par. The senior finished the third round six strokes ahead of the next best and closed out the tournament with a two-over 73. The final round was Stark’s only over-par round as he totaled a four-under 280 to win the national event. He was the only player who finished under par overall.
“It feels incredible to be able to perform on top when it really matters, especially when it was my last college event,” Stark said. “It feels awesome to contribute to the second national title for OC, and especially to win it for Coach Lynn, who has been looking forward to this for quite a while.”
Stark is the first individual national champion for the Eagles, with the one-two finish by Stark and Ochoa now reigning as the best in program history.
Ochoa closed with a final-round 71 to come in on par and finish five strokes behind Stark to capture the runner-up finish. Ochoa finished the second round tied for 14th, but big strides in the final two rounds earned him the second-place finish.
“I couldn’t be more proud of Oscar and Axel,” Lynn said. “What a way to go out as seniors. Oscar dominated from start to finish and was incredible this week.”
In addition to the performances by Stark and Ochoa, Logan Herbst and Preston Wilkins made large contributions to the championship as the pair tied for 13th overall with a total four-round score of 294. Herbst closed in a 74 while Wilkins carried a 75 in the final round. Vilhelm Bogstrand rounded out the Eagles’ five, tying for 37th overall and shooting a 301 total tournament score.
Wilkins, along with Stark and Ochoa, now become the only athletes in school history to be members of two national championship teams.
“I want to thank Oklahoma Christian, including Dr. O’Neal, Jeff Bingham and Curtis Janz for the opportunity to come back and do what I love so much,” Lynn said. “I also want to thank Bill Goad for making the trip up to Illinois to support the team this week. We received countless texts and emails of support and are truly blessed to be a part of the OC family.”