(Oklahoma Athletics Photo)
MONROE, LA (July 30, 2017) - 364 days after losing the W.E. Cole Cotton States Invitational title match Blaine Hale
wrote a different script on Sunday and this one included him hoisting the trophy at days end.
Last year Hale, a junior for Oklahoma, fell to Big 12 rival Garrett May of Baylor in a tight match but this time around playing against Oklahoma teammate Thomas Johnson, Hale was determined not to experience the same fate.
“Just to get back has been great,” Hale said to the News Star. “Thomas [Johnson] played great and I just love coming out here and getting a chance to play. I just love playing this course [Bayou DeSiard]. [Playing teammate Johnson] was just like qualifying for the team. You come out here trying to make the team and win the match. The only difference was that this was for a championship.”
To begin the 18-hole match at Bayou DeSiard Golf and Country Club Hale, the 19-seed, birdied No. 1 and took a lead that he would never relinquish. Following halves on Nos. 2-4, Hale won the 5th hole to take a 2 up, the first of five wins in a row that put Hale 6 up at the turn.
Johnson, a redshirt sophomore for Oklahoma, played solid golf throughout the front side but he was simply no match for Hale who posted a 7-under 29 on the opening nine.
On the second nine Johnson tried to make a bit of a push getting to within 5 down twice but Hale was playing to well and he closed on the match on the 14th green for a 5&4 victory.
“Any time you can win, it is a big deal in our sport, and I think Blaine (Hale) will take a lot of confidence from this win,” Oklahoma men’s golf head coach Ryan Hybl told the Oklahoma Athletics page. “It was great to see Thomas (Johnson) perform well this weekend as well.”
Editors Note: The News Star and Oklahoma Athletics contributed to this story
Match Play Day Two Recap
One year ago Blaine Hale lost the title match of the W.E. Cole Cotton States Invitational to Big 12 rival Garrett May of Baylor. Now 364 days later he will again have a chance to capture the title as he faces Oklahoma teammate Thomas Johnson in the title match at Bayou DeSiard Country Club.
Hale, the 19-seed, reached the title match with a comfortable 6&4 win over two-seed Ryan Alford in the semifinals. The victory for the Oklahoma junior came on the heels of his 3&2 win in the quarterfinals against No. 27 Blake Traweek of the University of Louisiana Monroe.
Thomas, a redshirt sophomore for the NCAA Champion Oklahoma Sooners, punched his ticket into the all crimson and cream final with a pair of victories on Saturday that included a 21 hole quarterfinal victory against former Southeastern Louisiana golfer, No. 9 James Anstiss and a 3&2 triumph over five-seed Triston Elston.
The title match of the W.E. Cole Cotton States Invitational will begin at 8:00 am local time Sunday morning.
Match Play Day One Recap
Down in the Bayou, the quarterfinals are set for Saturday at the W.E. Cole Cotton States Invitational. The seeds, following Medal Play, did not matter for most of the players. Upsets were the norm on a grueling day where the seeds who survived played 36 holes.
After 36 holes of medal play, Aussie Baxter Ward, who recently completed his college career at Stephen F. Austin University, secured the top seed heading into the round-of-32 Match play portion of the event. But, the top seed ended up more a curse than a blessing; the Aussie lost his opening match to Quade Cummins, who beat Baxter 2 up in their morning match.
In another morning match in the round of 32, Thomas Johnson won 2 up over Grayson Jones. Then, in the round of 16, Johnson continued his fine play, defeating Cummins 3 and 2.
Mathew Kettler (seeded 29th) made an impressive run of his own. After knocking out fourth seed Jake McCrory in his opening match 6 and 5, he defeated 2017 U.S. Open qualifier Walker Lee by the same count in the Round of 16. This sets up Kettler for a quarter-final mano a mano with fifth seed Triston Elston, who beat Jeff Barry (2 up) and Mark Panopoulos (3 and 2).
The other two quarterfinal matches feature Ryan Alford vs. Andy Lopez and Blaine Hale vs. 27th seed Blake Traweek.
ABOUT THE Cotton States Amateur
Originally played in 1949 as the Bayou
DeSiard Labor Day Golf Tournament, the
name was changed to the Cotton States
Invitational in 1951 by the club's young head
professional, W. E. "Winnie" Cole. He felt that
name better reflected the main states that the
tournament's players originated from (and a
mid-summer made the name a necessity later
anyway). Little did Cole know that 27 years
1978, the event would be renamed again,
be known as the W. E. Cole Cotton States
Invitational Golf Tournament.
Past champions of this highly competitive, yet
tournament include Don January and Hal
Toms and many other PGA Tour players have
competed. The tournament field field is limited
having a verified USGA Handicap Index not
exceeding 0.0. Long a match play event, the
format was changed in 2021 to 72 holes of
View Complete Tournament Information