Matthew Wolff (Jack Dempsey, NCAA photos)
There wasn’t much drama to the individual race at the NCAA Championship. Oklahoma State’s Matthew Wolff pulled away with a course-record 66 in the second round at Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Ark., and the ending was pretty much written from there.
It’s more of Wolff doing what Wolff does. The national title is victory No. 6 for Wolff this season, which is an Oklahoma State record. He was undefeated in stroke play in the fall.
Blessings is a sprawling piece of property that takes some learning and getting used to. Wolff started the week with a 1-over 73. He came out of it quickly, following with rounds of 66-70-69 for a 10-under total that was five shots better than Georgia Southern senior Steven Fisk.
“I have confidence in kind of just taking it shot by shot after that,” Wolff said. “Happy to be here, but still got work to do for the next couple days.”
Wolff points to the end of that opening round, when he was 3 under on the closing nine despite making bogey on the final hole. The sophomore had been down on himself until head coach Alan Bratton stepped in.
“He kind of told me the amount of times that Tiger Woods probably looked like he wasn't going to make the cut after the first nine or even after the first round,” Wolff recounted. “The greatest player of all time, and see -- that kind of motivated me a little to push me and know that I can still, obviously, win this thing and bounce back.”
The last Oklahoma State player to win the individual national title was Jonathan Moore in 2006. Moore now works as a strength and conditioning course for the men’s golf team. Wolff calls him “one of the most important people on the team to me.”
“Every single time I see him in the gym, at the course, eating lunch, I mean, he'll practice and play with us – he always has a smile on his face,” Wolff said. “He always just takes everything as it comes and is really blessed to be around all of us, as I am him.”
It was Moore who gave Wolff a simple but true way of looking at the early part of the week at NCAAs: If you do everything you can to help out the team, the individual race should take care of itself.
Wolff now will turn his attention to the team title. Oklahoma State must get through three rounds of match play to defend. Wolff won the clinching point in last year’s match as a freshman.
As for Fisk, the Georgia Southern senior who came up just short of Wolff, a win at Blessings would have been the seventh of his season. Fisk played a crucial role in Georgia Southern’s success this year as both a scorer and a vocal leader. He is good at thinking his way around a course, and that showed this week. Fisk didn’t make higher than a bogey until his fourth hole of the final round. Opponents’ cards were full of “others.”
Fisk closed his college career with four birdies in a back-nine 32.
“It’s been such a great week to be able to prove to myself could do it,” Fisk said. “It’s been a wonderful four years and I couldn’t have had a better time anywhere else.”
ABOUT THE NCAA Division I Championship
30 teams and 6 individuals not on a qualifying
team make up the field for the championship of
Division I women's golf.
After 72 holes of stroke play, the individual
champion is crowned, and the low 8 teams advance
match play to determine the team champion.
View Complete Tournament Information