The Cowboys pose for the 9th time this season (OkSt photo)
COLUMBUS, OH (May 16, 2018) - Frankly, it would’ve been a shock if Oklahoma State failed to reach the NCAA Championship. The Cowboys are the top-ranked team in the country and boast nationals on home turf with the action going down later this month at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.
Predictably, the Cowboys were just fine and left no doubt.
Oklahoma State finished off a wire-to-wire triumph Wednesday, closing in 1-over 285 for an 8-under total and an eight-shot victory. This is the Cowboys’ ninth win this season and a nice reminder of this group’s dominance after finishing fourth and second in its previous two starts.
The charge in Columbus came from Cowboys players on both sides of the experience spectrum. Freshman Matt Wolff never shot above 71 on his way to a tie for second at 3 under. Zach Bauchou, a junior, did the same in matching Wolff’s total.
Every Oklahoma State player finished in the top 20 this week. Viktor Hovland (T-7, 1 under), Kristoffer Ventura (T-13, 2 over) and Austin Eckroat (19th, 5 over) rounded out the Cowboys’ scores in Columbus.
Oklahoma State’s triumph marks its 13th regional title in program history and third straight.
This is a team the bulk of whose season was a seven-event winning streak. And now the Cowboys are returning to Stillwater winners and with the No. 1 ranking. Top-ranked Oklahoma State didn’t get the job done at a home NCAA Championship in 2011.
The hope for this Cowboys team is this time will be different.
Northwestern passes through a year after a heartbreaker. The Wildcats lost in a playoff to Jacksonville for the final NCAA Championship spot out of the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional in 2017. There was no such drama this time. The No. 6 seed was comfortably in position to advance all Wednesday and did so by placing fourth at 16 over. This is Northwestern’s first nationals appearance under fourth-year head coach David Inglis.
Texas Tech avenges last year’s disastrous ninth-place showing as a No. 2 seed at the NCAA College Grove Regional. It wasn’t pristine, but the third-seeded Red Raiders advance by firing an 18-over 870 for the fifth and final spot into NCAAs from this site.
Wake Forest, the No. 5 seed, was the only top-5 seed not to advance out of Columbus.
A player competing as an individual advances as an individual to the NCAA Championship. Michigan’s Kyle Mueller accomplished that by closing in 5-under 66 to come from three behind to win this regional.
The folowing teams and individual advanced to the NCAA Championship:
- Oklahoma State, Illinois, UNLV, Northwestern, Texas Tech
- Kyle Mueller, Michigan
ROUND TWO RECAP
The Phil Mickelson Award is given annually to the nation’s top freshman. Oklahoma State’s Matthew Wolff is considered a clear favorite for the honor. He can all but lock it up with a win this week in Columbus.
Wolff is ranked sixth in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings. (The next closest freshmen are Florida State’s John Pak at 33 and Auburn’s Brandon Mancheno at 34.) The Agoura Hills, Calif., native has five top-5 finishes this season, including at last month’s Big 12 Championship. He just hasn’t won yet.
That could change at the Scarlet Course, where Wolff is tied for the individual lead at 3 under after a 2-under 69 on Tuesday. Also sharing the top spot are Illinois teammates Nick Hardy and Michael Feagles, and Wolff’s teammate Zach Bauchou.
On the Golf Chanel series “Driven,” which looks into the Cowboys’ season, Wolff talked about how Bauchou was his “idol.” Then Wolff beat Bauchou in the spring opener in Hawaii.
“I may have to get a new idol,” Wolff joked.
All joking aside, this Cowboys team in really good. Winner of eight events this season, Oklahoma State can add a ninth Wednesday. The Cowboys lead as a team at 9 under, three clear of Illinois but also 29 shots ahead of sixth-place Penn State. That means that the top-seeded Cowboys are in great shape to return home for the NCAA Championship at Karsten Creek.
While Oklahoma State and Illinois are well ahead, UNLV is third at 7 over, 13 up on Penn State, which is sixth. … Hurly Long fired another 71 as Texas Tech climbed a spot to fifth, three ahead of Penn State. … Tennessee subbed out Jake Meenhorst after a first-round 82. His replacement Chase Roswall started bogey-quad and ended up carding an 80 in Round 2.
ROUND ONE RECAP
The Oklahoma State Cowboys, the unanimous #1 ranked men's college golf team who earlier in the season had a seven-tournament win streak, continued their strong play in the first round of the Columbus Regional.
The Cowboys, whose stardom has been amped up with the recent airing of the series "Driven" on the Golf Channel, have won eight of eleven tournaments this year but have been edged out in their last two tournaments. Their fourth-place finish in the ASU Thunderbird Invitational was their "worst" of the season, and they were runners-up to their rivals Oklahoma in the Big 12 Conference Championship.
Related: Oklahoma State enters NCAA's as unanimous No. 1
In a scheduling quirk, the Cowboys had to travel out of state for their regional, as the defending national champion Sooners are hosting a regional down the road in Norman. In another oddity, the host school Ohio State is not even playing this week, as they did not qualify for the postseason.
On a day when only two players could break 70, Oklahoma State had steady play across its lineup. Freshmen Matthew Wolff and Austin Eckroat, along with senior Kristoffer Ventura, all shot 2-under 70 while junior Zach Bauchou had a 71 and Viktor Hovland a 73. Their team score was 281, 7 under par.
The Cowboys are going for a record 13th regional title (and third in a row) and a 71st trip to the NCAA championship final in their program's 72nd year.
They will be considered the heavy favorites should they finish inside the top five and advance to the NCAA Championships, which they will be hosting on their home course of Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, OK.
UNLV also had four par-or-better rounds, led by South African Garrick Higgo with a 69 and Englishman Harry Hall with a 70, to shoot a 6-under 282 and trail the leaders by just one shot.
Sophomore Michael Feagles shot a bogey-free 3-under 68 to take the individual lead and help the University of Illinois to a third-place standing with a 4-under 284. Seniors Nick Hardy and Dylan Meyer each shot 71 for the Fighting Illini.
Two Big Ten teams, Northwestern and Penn State, hold down the fourth and fifth spots at 292 and 293 respectively. The top 5 teams will advance to the NCAA Championships.