Johnston earns medalist honors in Arizona as Eagles win team title

Sam Johnston earned medalist honors for the third time in his career as OC won the Western New Mexico Fall Intercollegiate.
Sam Johnston earned medalist honors for the third time in his career as OC won the Western New Mexico Fall Intercollegiate.

GOODYEAR, Ariz. (Oct. 1, 2013) – Oklahoma Christian’s Sam Johnston shot a 4-under-par 68 to claim his third career individual title and the Eagles posted their second team win of the season at the Western New Mexico Fall Intercollegiate, which ended Tuesday at The Golf Club of Estrella.

OC, ranked No. 21 in the NCAA Division II coaches’ poll, also received even-par rounds from Trey Payne, Alasdair Dalgliesh and Johnny Ellis to post a team score of 284 on a 100-degree day in the desert. That put the Eagles at 13-under 851 for the tournament, five shots better than host Western New Mexico.

Johnston, a sophomore from San Diego, finished at 7-under 209 and won a scorecard playoff with Colin Prater of Colorado Mesa to take medalist honors. Johnston won two tournament titles as a freshman en route to being named to the Division II All-America second-team list.

Johnston went 4-under on the back nine on the 7,139-yard course, capping his round with a birdie after hitting his approach shot to the green on No. 18 within five feet. All three of his tournament rounds were under-par as he became the seventh OC player to win at least three individual titles during his career.

Dalgliesh finished tied for third at 6-under with Andrew Kennedy of Colorado Christian.

“This was the first event that truly felt like a team effort,” OC coach David Lynn said. “I am extremely proud of how we handled all the adversity this week. The Bermuda greens and the 100-degree heat made the 36 holes Monday very difficult but we stayed very poised.

“I am very proud of Sam and very pleased with Ali’s performance. I think he is getting some confidence back.”

Ellis finished at 219, tied for 25th in the 98-man field, while Payne tied for 29th at 220. Taylor Williams shot a 75 on Tuesday to close at 222, tied for 43rd.

The Eagles opened the fall season with a win at the Newman Fall Invitational at Reflection Ridge Golf Club in Wichita, Kan., and they finished third in the Ryan Palmer Foundation Invitational at Tascosa Golf Club in Amarillo, Texas.

As in the Amarillo event, OC faced a good mix of teams from the Heartland, Rocky Mountain Athletic and Lone Star Conferences, which make up the NCAA Division II’s South Central Region, along with three California-based squads.

Four other Heartland Conference squads played in the 20-team event, with No. 25-ranked St. Mary’s (Texas) finishing eighth, Lubbock Christian (Texas) finishing tied for 10th, Newman (Kan.) finishing 16th and McMurry (Texas) finishing 20th.