Matthew Wolff (OSU Athletics/Twitter photo)
Though several players made a run at him late on a 36-hole day at the Floridian, no man could catch Matthew Wolff
. That seems a pretty good summation of this season in general. For Wolff, an Oklahoma State sophomore, the Valspar Collegiate trophy represents season victory No. 5.
Wolff is the first player in program history to amass that many individual titles in one season.
The Valspar is a particularly big deal considering that Wolff received a spot in the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship, played across the state at Innisbrook Resort, for winning. The 19-year-old made his Tour debut earlier this spring at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. He turned heads with his unique move while making the cut and finishing with a share of 50th.
It was an odd day in Palm City, Fla., on Monday as a scheduled 18-hole round became a 36-hole marathon. Players raced to finish before dark as inclement weather moved into the area. As it is, three players in the field must finish the final round on Tuesday.
Duke senior Alex Smalley
is the most noteworthy among those, having been one of a handful of players to give Wolff chase. Smalley, with two holes left, is 7 under for the tournament and seven shots behind Wolff in first.
Wolff had the first-round lead after opening with 6-under 65. On Monday, however, college golf’s best crept up behind him.
Among the men to seriously make a run at Wolff, Golfweek’s
No. 2-ranked collegian, were Florida State sophomore John Pak
and Texas A&M senior Chandler Phillips
Phillips, ranked No. 46, birdied Nos. 11, 13, 15 and 17 on the back to pull within one shot of the leader. Wolff made nine pars on the back nine to finish off a closing 68 and reach 14 under for the tournament. The two were paired together, and when Phillips double-bogeyed the 18th hole, it knocked him back to 12 under and solo third. Phillips closed with a 67.
For Phillips – and for any player, for that matter – the Tour start would have been welcomed. After his senior season, Phillips will play one more summer on the amateur circuit before turning professional. His plan is to play his way in to the next level, either through Monday qualifiers or Web.com Tour Qualifying School, rather than rely on sponsor exemptions.
“I like earning things,” Phillips said before the Valspar, “so I don’t want to assume anything will be given to me.”
A few holes behind Wolff and Phillips, Pak was also throwing out birdies. After opening with a bogey – which ultimately meant the difference between first and second – Pak had seven birdies on the day, including three in a row from Nos. 13-15. A final-round 65 left him one shot short of Wolff in solo second.
The team title wasn’t nearly as close, with Wake Forest going 25 under to win by six shots over Auburn. The Demon Deacons, No. 10 in the Golfweek
/Sagarin College Rankings, were 11 shots ahead of Oklahoma State, the top-ranked team, in fourth.
"It was a good team effort all around and everyone contributed to this victory," Wake Forest head coach Jerry Haas in a press release. "We took on the best teams in the country in this event and to shoot 25-under and come home with a trophy will give us a lot of confidence moving forward. I am proud of these guys and their play this week."
ABOUT THE Valspar Collegiate Invitational
54-hole collegiate invitational hosted at The
Floridian. Team (best four scores out of five players
each round) and individual competitions. Began in
and is already one of the elite college events on the
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