Uihlein pacing Cowboys at home
STILLWATER, Okla. – The Oklahoma winds finally kicked into motion and Oklahoma State rode it to a commanding lead Friday after two rounds at the NCAA South Central Regional at Karsten Creek Golf Club.
Playing on their home course in familiar conditions, the Cowboys fired a tournament-low 1-over 289 and stand at 9-over 585 heading into Saturday’s final round.
Meanwhile, the other 12 teams simply tried to survive as a 20-mph wind that gusted much higher, kept players guessing.
Chattanooga is second after shooting 12-over 300 . At 22-over 598, the Mocs trail Oklahoma State by 14 shots. Arkansas came in at 301 for 599.
Northwestern, after a 301, climbed into fourth at 27-over 603 with LSU fifth at 605.
The top five teams, and the low individual not on one of those teams, advance to the NCAA Championship, May 26-30 at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.
“Karsten Creek showed its teeth today,” Oklahoma State coach Mike McGraw said.
Individually, only three players are under par. Oklahoma State freshman Peter Uihlein and Wichita State junior Connor McHenry share the lead at 2-under 142. Uihlein had a chance to take the outright lead but bogeyed the 18th hole when he pulled his second shot into the water.
McHenry shot 69, the day’s low round. Starting on No. 10, he opened with a bogey, then made birdie at No. 14 and bogey at 16, before closing the back side with an eagle on the par-5 18th. He made three birdies and a bogey on his final nine holes.
For Uihlein, keeping his tee shots out of the trees and making “a mile of putts” were the key.
“I’ve been driving the ball well the last two days and that’s so crucial out here,” Uihlein said. “Today I made a ton of long putts and was able to take advantage of the downwind holes, and then play smart on the holes into the wind.”
Uihlein made a 40-foot putt for birdie at No. 2 and followed with a pair of 20-footers to save par on Nos. 3 and 4. He bogeyed No. 6, missing a 4-footer, but birdied No. 7 with a 40-foot putt. On the back he made birdies from 15 feet at Nos. 12 and 14 to get to 4 under before closing with bogeys at Nos. 15 and 18.
The only other player under par is Chattanooga’s Stephan Jaeger, who shot 70. Chattanooga’s Ben Rickett is at 1-over 145 while five players are at 146, including LSU’s John Peterson, who had the lead at 5 under after birdies at Nos. 4, 5 and 6. But he knocked himself out with bogeys at Nos. 7-8, a double-bogey at 9 and a bogey at 10. He birdied No. 12, only to bogey 16 and double 17.
As the leading teams were making the turn, Chattanooga moved past Oklahoma State into the lead and had a four-shot edge after the Cowboys played the 477-yard par-4 10th hole with a triple bogey, two double bogeys, a bogey and a par.
“We really got ourselves in a hole at the 10th,” McGraw said. “We just played it terrible. Fortunately we got it going and from 11 on played well.”
The four Cowboys whose scores counted played the final eight holes in 5 under, led by freshman Morgan Hoffmann who was 4 under in that stretch. He eagled the 350-yard par-4, 12th hole after driving the green and sinking a 65-foot putt. He shot even-par on the day.
“I always believed that if you can play well in tough conditions you can separate yourselves and we were able to do that,” McGraw said. “I’m really pleased with the way Morgan and Peter played. I always knew Morgan had a fighter’s attitude and he showed it today.
“To me this tournament is a lot like (PGA Tour) Q-School. It’s do or die,” McGraw said. “You either do it or you don’t go on.”
Heavy rain storms are expected to come through the area late Friday night and extend into Saturday morning.
The tournament committee considered playing 36 holes Friday to get the tournament over, but decided to go as planned with 18 holes each of the three scheduled days.