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Golf team aims for elusive championship

Monday, April 21, 2008   (0 Comments)
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By Chad Hartwell

The Oklahoma Christian University golf team was ranked No. 1 in the latest NAIA Golf Poll. This is the second poll this year in which the Oklahoma Christian golf team has been the unanimous No. 1 team.

Senior Bruno Buccolo feels the season has been okay.

"It was great in the fall because all of us were playing at a high level," Buccolo said. "The spring has been up and down as a team, mainly because every one of us has been working on our swings."

Senior Rhein Gibson feels the season has been a success to date, and the new guys that came on to the team this year have impacted the team immensely.

"Our ultimate goal is to win a national championship," Gibson said. "So whatever happens during the regular season doesn't really matter as far as we are concerned."

Coach David Lynn thinks the year has gone well so far. The team has won five tournaments and had five individual winners of tournaments. They have been ranked No. 1 since November.

"We haven't lost to a NAIA team this year," Lynn said. "Of course, our biggest tournaments are coming up over the next five weeks, but we are ready to go out and win them."

The Eagles finished in the top 10 in the NCAA Diet Pepsi Shocker Classic on April 1.  They finished in eighth place and obtained the best placing by a non-NCAA team.

The remainder of this season consists of regionals and nationals. Gibson feels somewhat confident about the team's chances for the rest of the season.

"We play well as a team and that has been seen in our results thus far this year," Gibson said. "We have a couple of weeks to prepare, so by that time we should be ready to go."

Buccolo feels this is the year the team is going to make it big.

"I don't hope this. I feel it, and I see that my teammates feel the same," Buccolo said. "I truly believe that we are going to win nationals this year, and I am not afraid of saying this."

Buccolo believes in his skills and in his teammate's abilities.

"If we are at the top of our game during that week, we will win," Buccolo said.

Buccolo, Gibson, and junior Fernando Gonzales all finished in the top 30 among the 90 golfers that competed in the Shocker Classic.

In preparing for the remainder of the season, Buccolo believes the one thing they could work on is their short game. He said that will be the difference in winning nationals or not.

Other than their short game, Buccolo feels the main point they need to work on is to believe that they are going to win, and then go out and play their best golf no matter what the score.

"If we can do that, then there is nothing that is going to stop us from winning," Buccolo said. "Sounds confident? I am, and this is the only way I believe that you can win a national championship.

Lynn also thinks the short game is the area to work on.

"We have been driving the ball pretty well and hitting a lot of greens, but as we get closer to the big tournaments, our recovery shots and short game will hopefully improve," Lynn said. "We also are just striving each day to get better at every facet of the game."

Gibson does not think the team has much they need to work on, but thinks they need to try and not get caught up in the moment.

"We realize being number one means that everyone wants to beat us," Gibson said. "But we are number one for that reason."

Gibson feels that if they can carry over the same attitude and desire that they have had throughout the season then they should have a very good chance of winning.

Earlier this year Buccolo and Gibson were both selected to the Jack Nicklaus Award watch list. This award recognizes the top players from the NCAA Division I, II, III and the NAIA ranks.

The high point of this season for Buccolo was the way they played at Georgia in the fall.

"That was the time that we were all at the top of our games," Buccolo said. "That tournament we had five guys in the top 10, which is hard to do at a competitive level."

Gibson's high point was traveling to Hawaii.

"That was a lot of fun," Gibson said. "The courses were awesome and the atmosphere was surreal."

Coach Lynn felt there were several highlights to this year and really enjoyed the trips to Hawaii and South Carolina.

"Watching Bruno win his 10th college event was definitely a highlight of this year and I am looking forward to seeing him win his 11th before the year is over," Lynn said.

The Eagle's next event will be in Lubbock, Texas on April 21-22. The national are scheduled for May 13-16 in Plymouth, Ind.

"I would like for the readers to know we are out there grinding on our games six days a week trying to bring a second team national championship to Oklahoma Christian," Lynn said.

The team hopes that a national championship would perhaps spark more interest in the golf team.

"I guess a lot of us feel that we don't get the recognition that we should get. I don't like saying that because I understand that people are not as interested in golf as other sports," Buccolo said. "I just want to show by action that we have one of the best teams in the nation.


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