The match play portion of the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Golf Championship is underway today at the Capital City Club in Milton, Georgia. The top eight teams from the three-day stroke play portion face off in today’s quarterfinals but the Oklahoma State University Cowboys will miss out on the final stages after a disappointing stroke play tournament that ended Thursday afternoon.
Oklahoma State men’s golf team has an incredible pedigree as the college home to tour players like Hunter Mahan, Scott Verplank, Bob Tway and Rickie Fowler among others. These players and others have created a tradition of excellence that is almost unmatched in the recent history of men’s collegiate golf.
This years Cowboy team was very inexperienced; only one player, junior Talor Gooch had played in a previous NCAA Championship tournament. The others, juniors Ian Davis and Kevin Dougherty, sophomore Patrick Winther and freshman Jordan Neibrugge had never appeared in such a pressure-filled situation.
The Cowboys, ranked sixteen in the nation coming into the tournament, were not expected to challenge for the national title although with the talent on the team available to Coach Mike McGraw there was always reason for optimism.
The tournament started very brightly with the Cowboys tied for 7th after the first day with an aggregate score of 279 or 1 under par. Ian Davis and Talor Gooch led the Cowboys with scores of 3 under on their rounds, good enough to be part of a group tied for 4th after the first day.
While the Cowboys played solidly on day 1 the highlight of the day was provided by Arizona State’s Jon Rahm who shot a course record 61 on the 7,319-yard par 70 golf course.
Day 2 proved to be the Cowboy’s downfall. The Cowboys had a later tee-time on the second day and the breezy conditions caused the greens to dry out playing havoc with many of the scores from the afternoon tee-times. Shooting 293 as a team, fourteen shots worse than their first round the Cowboys dropped from 7th to 25th in the 30-team field.
With the tough conditions only Arizona State fell harder than the Cowboys. Leading after day 1, thanks in part to Jon Rahm’s 61, the Sun Devils shot 18 shots worse on Day 2 dropping from first to seventh.
On Thursday with the Cowboys seemingly out of it, junior Ian Davis summed up the Cowboys attitude. “We kind of tried to carry a little bit more pride into our round today. I thought we had a little bit of something to prove and try to show our character. After a bad round, you can either think that you’re out of it and lay down, or at least come out and see, because you never know what can happen.”
It almost happened for the Cowboys. At one point in their round the team got it to 10 under on the day and a score of 2 over for the tournament. However a couple of late bogies moved them back to 5 under, tied for the second lowest round of the day.
They finished the tournament at seven over moving up eleven places and being tied for 14th. Much better but not good enough to make it into the top eight and the match play portion.
Ian Davis was the low scoring Cowboy carding a 5 under 205 over the three days, good enough for a tie for 8th overall. The other Cowboys scores were as follows:
Junior Talor Gooch closed with a 68 to finish tied for 38th place at 211.
Freshman Jordan Niebrugge fired a 68 to finish at 213 and tied for 60th place.
Junior Kevin Dougherty shot a 71 and a 219 total, good for 116th place.
In his last tournament as a Cowboy before transferring to Colorado State, Sophomore Patrick Winther shot an 82 for an overall 235 score finishing in 155th place.
The NCAA individual champion was Max Homa from Cal who shot 9 under for the three days. The match play tournament to determine the team champion will continue through Sunday.