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Johnston takes medalist honors as Eagles finish 2nd in Skyhawk Shootout

OC junior Trey Payne posted a career-best fourth-place finish in the Skyhawk Classic Club Shootout.
OC junior Trey Payne posted a career-best fourth-place finish in the Skyhawk Classic Club Shootout.

PALM DESERT, Calif. (April 1, 2014) – Sam Johnston joined an elite list of Oklahoma Christian golfers by taking his fourth individual tournament title on Tuesday, leading the Eagles to a second-place finish in the Dr. Troy Bledsoe Skyhawk Classic Club Shootout.

Johnston, a sophomore from San Diego, closed with a 1-over-par 73 on the 6,896-yard course at The Classic Club, finishing at 4-over 220 for the tournament and holding off Colorado Christian’s Andrew Kennedy by one shot.

The Eagles had two other top-five finishers in Trey Payne and Johnny Ellis, but still finished second behind Colorado Christian for the team title. CCU, which entered the day a shot back of OC, posted a team score of 294, while the Eagles had a 302 to finish at 915, seven shots back.

Still, OC finished 46 shots ahead of Colorado Mesa, which was third in the six-team field that included host Fort Lewis (Colo.), Dominican (Calif.) and South Dakota Mines.

The individual win was the second of the 2013-14 campaign for Johnston, who also was the medalist last fall in the Western New Mexico Fall Intercollegiate. Johnston also won twice as a freshman.

He is one of only six OC players ever to have won four tournament titles. OC Athletic Hall of Fame Bruno Buccolo leads that list with 10 from 2004-2008, while Juan LIzzaralde had nine from 2001-2005. Another OC Hall of Famer, Rhein Gibson, also finished with four, as did Axel Ochoa and Oscar Stark. All five of those players went on to professional golf careers.

“Sam played very solid golf this week,” OC coach David Lynn said. “The golf course just wouldn’t yield low scores. The greens were very firm and extremely difficult to get close to. He has worked hard on his game the past month and it’s very satisfying to see it pay off for him.”

Payne’s fourth-place finish was the best of his college career. He also shot a 73 to close at 229, nine shots behind Johnston. Ellis tied for fifth at 231 after his second straight 78.

OC senior Alasdair Dalgliesh also shot a 78 and was 11th in the 34-man field at 237, while freshman Ryan Evans fired an 85 and tied for 26th at 256.

 “Johnny played steady golf,” Lynn said. “He didn’t score like he would have liked, based on his ball striking, but he stayed positive and grinded it out. Trey also played solid, improving every round. I feel like as a team we are slowly rounding into form, based on the time we have had to practice with the lingering winter conditions we’ve had at home.”