Stillwater News Press

May 16, 2009

Depth extends Oklahoma State’s NCAA Championship streak

Justin Hite — Stillwater NewsPress

The celebration was nothing more than a quick fist pump and an exchange of handshakes amongst the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

Oklahoma State won the NCAA South Central Regional on Saturday at Karsten Creek Golf Club and advanced to its 63rd-straight NCAA Championship. The tournament was only the school’s fifth collegiate tournament appearance at its home course.

It was a significant emergence of depth that gave Oklahoma State a 22-stroke victory and, even though the three-top Cowboys — Rickie Fowler, Morgan Hoffmann and Trent Leon — all struggled, the bottom half of the lineup shined. Kevin Tway won the event by one stroke, just ahead of OSU’s Peter Ulhlein.

“That’s what we need to have,” said OSU coach Mike McGraw. “We need to know that those guys, wherever they are in the lineup, that everybody has a chance to play well.”

Ulhlein has had three-straight top-ten finishes and, despite missing the Big 12 Championship, Tway was one of only two Cowboys to start in all of Oklahoma State’s regular season tournaments.

“We’ve known all year that we have a pretty deep team,” Ulhlein said. “It’s just getting us to play together at the right time and all of us playing well at the same time.”

With the NCAA Championships less than two weeks away, it’s a perfect time for the Cowboys to be getting production from each player in their lineup. But there are still things to work on according to McGraw.

“I still think we need to play smarter golf,” he said. “I’m really happy with the way they played and excited they played well. I still think there’s a lot of things we can do better.”

Tway shot a three-round even-par, 216 and Ulhlein carded a 1-over, 217. Fowler finished with an 8-over, 224 in 12th place and Hoffmann shot a 10-over, 226. Leon rounded out OSU scores with a 12-over, 228.

“Those three guys will get it back,” Ulhlein said. “Me and Kevin had to grind out here for qualifying all year and those guys have just kind of done their thing. They’ve earned it and played well. I’m not worried about them.”

Even though Tway and Ulhlein may be the bottom of the order in the Oklahoma State lineup, it’s not something they — or even McGraw — believe. Ulhlein has come on strong during the last two months and Tway is playing his best golf at the point in the season he needs to.

“What Kevin and Peter would tell you is, ‘We’re not the bottom of the order.’ That’s what they would say,” McGraw said. “I hope everybody thinks that. It’s nice when you win a golf tournament when a guy like Rickie Fowler has an off tournament or Morgan Hoffman — who’s played so well all year — has probably one of his worst tournaments.”

Oklahoma State feels just like it wants to heading into the season’s final tournament.

“With those two guys playing really well this week and the three of us having somewhat of a solid year, that’s got to be a pretty good feeling heading into nationals,” Fowler said.