Christopher Shelton — Stillwater NewsPress
For the last four years, Oklahoma State senior Trent Leon has begged and bugged the Cowboys’ men’s golf coaches to lobby for a collegiate meet to be held at Karsten Creek Golf Course — just down the road from OSU.
In one of the final tournaments of his career as a Cowboy, Leon has finally gotten his wish. Oklahoma State will host an NCAA Regional beginning on Thursday.
“Most courses we go to you need a yardage book and you have to figure a bunch of stuff out. There’s a lot of stuff you have to learn,” Leon said. “Being at Karsten Creek, you don’t need a yardage book. I know where to put the ball and everything. It makes it a lot easier, but you still have to execute.”
Oklahoma State will be going for its 63rd consecutive NCAA Championship appearance when it tees off at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday — paired with Arkansas and TCU. The second-longest NCAA appearance streak is Georgia’s 11-straight. OSU will be placed depending on team results in the second and third rounds.
The Cowboys are the second-ranked team and rightfully so. OSU has won its last two tournaments and is the top seed for the regional tournament.
“We are really tough to beat on paper at least,” Leon said. “We just have to go out an execute it.”
Coach Mike McGraw didn’t see having the course near home as any sort of competitive advantage, but did think it was a benefit in one aspect.
“It’ll be great to have it here more than anything just to not have to travel,” McGraw said. “It’s nice to be here for sure.”
Not since 2003 has Oklahoma State competed at Karsten Creek and the regional this week will be only the fifth time the course has hosted a collegiate event.
There will also be a slight alteration to the format of the regional tournament. The regional tournaments used to be a three-region, 27-team tournament that allowed the top-10 teams at each regional to make the NCAA Championships. This year, there will be six regional sites and only the top-five teams will make it to the NCAA Championships on May 26.
With a limited field being allowed this year, Oklahoma State’s recent run victories in three of it last four events will help grab one of those few spots.
“We’ve got some guys playing pretty well,” McGraw said. “Obviously, that’s when you want to be playing really well is at the end of the season. Hopefully they can kind of stay the course and get better every week.
“… The fact that all these guys have played some good golf means something.”