May 20, 2010

By Mike Beas
Special to NCAA.com

NOBLESVILLE, Ind.-It was a little over two years ago when Cyril Bouniol arrived in the United States from Laloubere, France.

He spoke no English, but he was fluent in dreaming big.

Now look at the Abilene (Texas) Christian junior. Bouniol's English, already good, continues to improve daily. And his golf game? Through three rounds at the NCAA Division II Men's Golf Championships, Bouniol has been talk of the town.

Entering Friday's final round, Bouniol had a 1-under total of 215 and a three-shot advantage over second-place Kyle Souza of Chico State in the race for individual medalist.

Wednesday's 4-under 68 tied a course record at Sagamore Golf Club, a 7,173-yard course that's a test of both focus and fortitude.

"I had seven birdies and three bogeys. I played real solid, though, so, really, I can't say anything bad about that round," Bouniol said. "I'm just trying to stick to my game plan, which is mainly to knock the ball in the fairway and get it to a safe part of the green. I'm a risk-taker when there's a reward to that risk."

The 22-year-old Bouniol, a business management major who produced a 4.0 grade-point average last semester, has settled in nicely in his new country. Not that there weren't challenges, especially during his freshman year.

"It was tough at first, but people were very welcoming," he said.

Bouniol hasn't seen his parents and 18-year-old brother since last Christmas and won't again until August. But he maintains daily contact either by cellphone, e-mail or Skype.

Always cognizant of the time difference, Bouniol has caught something of a break by competing in Indiana this week. There's only a six-hour difference between here and his hometown while it's seven back in Texas.

Regardless, should Bouniol finish what he's started and wind up tournament's medalist on Friday, expect that call home to be longer than the norm.