OSU, Uihlein win Ping/Golfweek Invitational
Oklahoma State coach Mike McGraw explains how team chemistry led to a victory at the Ping/Golfweek Invitational.
BREMERTON, Wash. – It was as easy as 1-2-3 for Oklahoma State Monday at the Ping/Golfweek Invitational at Gold Mountain Golf Club, where a trio of Cowboys swept the top 3 individual spots to help its team win handily.
Led by medalist Peter Uihlein, and with Morgan Hoffmann and Trent Whitekiller following close behind, Oklahoma State cruised to a 22-shot victory.
Uihlein, a sophomore, broke a tie with Hoffmann with birdies on the final two holes for a 1-under-par 71 and 5-under 211 total.
Hoffmann, also a sophomore and a co-medalist in this event last year, birdied 13 and eagled the par-5 14th to tie Uihlein at 3 under. But he parred in for a 3-under 69 and 3-under 213 total.
Whitekiller, who was 4 over on his round through eight holes, played his final 10 holes in 4 under for an even-par 72 and 216.
Under cold (temperatures in the mid-to-high 50s) and windy (gusts up to 25 mph) conditions, the Cowboys closed in 285 – the low round of the tournament – and finished as the only team in red numbers at 2-under-par 862.
It was Oklahoma State’s fifth victory in the 21-year history of this event. The Cowboys joined Arizona State (1991-92) and UNLV (1996-97) as the the only teams to have won back-to-back titles. Last fall at the Ping/Golfweek Preview at Inverness Club, Oklahoma State also was the only team under par, winning by 16 shots over Tennessee.
Ping/Golfweek Invitational Highlights
Host Washington finished second at 20-over 884, closing with a 7-over 295, while Arizona State followed at 25-over 889. Rounding out the top five in the 15-team field were North Carolina State (893) and defending NCAA champion Texas A&M (895), which jumped five spots with its final-round 293.
“I’m very impressed with this golf course,” said Oklahoma State coach Mike McGraw. “The people here did an incredible job. The wind picked up today and it really made things exciting on the front nine.”
But it was the back nine where the Cowboys, who led by 12 shots at the start of the day, put things out of reach. Oklahoma State played the final five holes in 9 under to put an exclamation point on the victory.
“The thing about this golf course and in these conditions with the firm and fast greens is you have to play well and be on your game,” McGraw said. “You can’t do it with smoke and mirrors.
“We did see some areas where we need to work on, but overall I’m extremely happy. We played well and won on a really tough golf course.”
For Uihlein, who earlier this month won all four of his matches in helping lead the U.S. to victory over Great Britain and Ireland in the Walker Cup, it was his second official collegiate victory.
The first helped jump-start the success he has had since the middle of last spring – it came at the Gaillardia Intercollegiate, a 36-hole event in Oklahoma City where he played as an individual against primarily an NAIA field.
This time around he went up against a power-packed Division I field that included 12 of Golfweek’s preseason top-30 teams and some of the leading players in college golf.
“This is definitely a very big win,” Uihlein said. “There we so many great players here this week. I don’t think it’s all really sunk in just year. This past month and a half has been a roller coaster.”
In addition to Walker Cup, Uihlein was also quarterfinalist at the U.S. Amateur and opened the college season with a T-14 at Olympia Fields.
“It’s going to be nice to take the next three weeks and take a few deep breaths and let it all sink in,” he said.
Uihlein started the final round with a three-shot lead over LSU’s Andrew Loupe and four in front of Hoffmann and Whitekiller. He made birdies at Nos. 2 and 6, but bogeyed Nos. 3 and 8 with a double bogey falling in there at No. 7.
His birdie at 11 put him three shots clear of Hoffmann, but that changed when his Cowboy teammate went birdie-eagle at Nos. 13 and 14.
“I knew we were tied so I knew I had to do something coming into those final few holes,” Uihlein said.
He sank a 12-footer for birdie at the 17th and an 18-footer at the finishing hole.
“Winning here is something I’m really proud of,” Uihlein said. “Still, to me, the team win is a bigger statement than the individual win.”