By Jason Elmquist
RHODES, Iowa —
Alan Bratton's group of golfers were steady all weekend at the Big 12 Conference Women's Golf Championship at The Harvester Golf Club. And that steady play was rewarded with the first Big 12 championship for the Oklahoma State women's golf program since 2009 — and its eighth since the inception of the conference.
"It was really exciting and it came right down to the wire and we did a nice job of closing out this time — maybe some unfinished business from (Saturday)," Bratton said. "It was some good competition, our league is really balanced and the Baylor girls played really well, so we were fortunate enough to come out on top."
Oklahoma State finished ahead of Baylor by two strokes in the team standings, able to overcome the Bears earning medalist honors with Lauren Taylor finishing at 3-under for the tournament — winning the individual title by eight strokes.
The Cowgirls overcame cold and windy conditions all weekend and had four golfers finish in the top 10 of the event — the most of any team — and was the only program to have all five golfers finish in the top 20.
"We had talked about the toughness that it takes to play in the type of conditions we played in and that the toughest team, at the end of the day in those kinds of conditions, is the one that's going to come out on top," Bratton said. "They did a nice job of that this weekend."
Kelsey Vines finished tied for fifth at 10-over, while Jayde Panos had a big final round to jump from a tie for 21st to a tie for seventh — shooting an even-par, 72 as only one golfer broke par on the day. Joining Panos in a tie for seventh was freshman Julie Yang, who struggled to a 7-over, 79 on the final day — largely because she shot a 7 on the par-3 third hole.
Josephine Janson shot a 5-over 77, but held on to a top 10 finish with a 13-over finish for the weekend. OSU's fifth golfer Lauren Falley also saw a drastic move on the final day, jumping from a tie at 29th to a tie for 17th with a 3-over 75 to give the Cowgirls five top 20 finishers.
"We had all five players on their game and nobody else in the field could say that," Bratton said. "That's been the strength of our team — the depth that we have and they all stepped up this week in very difficult conditions."
The title is the first for Bratton in his second year running the program, with several of the players having bee on roster before Bratton moved over from serving as an assistant on the men's golf team to leading the women's program.
"This is a testament to the experience that these players have gained over the last few years and certainly the expectations at Oklahoma State," Bratton said. "We've got no excuses. We've got everything we need to win and we've just got to get the job done. Just have to give credit to the girls for the work that they've put in and the experience they've gained. But it's nice to get our first one and hopefully we can keep building from there."
The Cowgirls will return home to participate in the Bedlam Cup, a Ryder Cup style format event against the University of Oklahoma women's team, on Saturday at Karsten Creek. Oklahoma State finished ahead of its in-state rivals for the second-straight tournament with OU finishing a distance fourth despite coming into the conference tournament as the fourth-ranked team in the nation.