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Kropp on home turf in Oklahoma

By RAY MCCARTHY
Assistant Editor

William Kropp is an Oklahoman, and he is one of the state’s best junior golfers.

Good Oklahoma junior golfers often commit to Oklahoma State University.

Kevin Tway, a former Edmond North High School teammate and good friend of Kropp, won the 2005 U.S. Junior, and currently plays for the Cowboys.

Edmond North is perennially one of the state’s best teams. The Huskies won three state titles in the 1990s under current OSU head coach Mike McGraw. Former Husky Zac Reynolds, the runner-up at the 2002 U.S. Junior, also saddled up with McGraw at Oklahoma State.

“I played with Kevin in high school, and I wanted to keep playing with him. I wanted to go to OSU for a long time,” said Kropp, a senior at Edmond North. “But when I went to (the University of) Georgia, it really opened up my eyes. I fell in love with it the first time I went there.”

Kropp’s commitment to Georgia comes as a surprise considering the success he has had at home. He’ll have a chance this weekend to complete an Oklahoma trifecta of sorts at the AJGA’s season-ending Ping Invitational, held on OSU’s par-72, 7,285-yard Karsten Creek Golf Club. The tournament starts Oct. 6.

“I’m going to try to take it as deep as I can, and hopefully it’ll be good enough,” said Kropp, who tied for forth in last year’s inaugural event. “It’s nothing like any other golf course I’ve ever played. It’s really hard.”

In June, Kropp captured the rain-shortened OSSO Junior at Oak Tree with rounds of 69-68. Not surprisingly, Kropp battled Edmond North senior teammate Geoffrey Shaw down the stretch. Shaw, who has yet to decide on a college, finished second by two strokes.

Kropp won his first OSSO Junior title in 2005. Tway won the event in 2006.

It makes sense Kropp, Shaw, and Tway lapped the field at Oak Tree Golf and Country Club. All are members at the club and have logged dozens of rounds there.

“We all push each other, and we all just want to play golf and beat each other,” Kropp said. “I’ve played (Oak Tree) every day since I’ve moved here, so maybe I feel comfortable like I’m just going out and playing.”

Along with his family, Kropp moved to Oklahoma from Indianapolis when he was 6 years old. His early interest in golf was cultivated by his father, Brad, who has made a name for himself in the Oklahoma amateur ranks.

Brad was a two-time Division III All-American at Ohio-Wesleyan, where he finished sixth in the 1982 NCAA Division III Championship as a junior and ninth the following year as a senior. This summer, he finished tied for fifth in the Oklahoma Mid-Amateur.

Father and son have developed a strong relationship through golf – Brad with statistics and Will’s open-mindedness toward learning and ability to play by feel.

“I’m very scientific and analytical, and Will is driven by his emotions,” said Brad, who works as a doctor. “The way I’ve dealt with Will and his game is I show him the numbers, and he makes the decision based on the information.”

Such was the case when Will decided that he would play golf for the University of Georgia next year.

Brad laid out the information for his son, and Will made his decision based upon the way he felt upon visiting head coach Chris Haack and his Bulldogs.

The decision came as a surprise considering most of Will’s Oklahoma brethren, including Tway, were heading to OSU.

For now, Will is focused on overcoming a studded field at the Ping Invitational that includes Golfweek’s top-ranked junior Peter Uihlein, U.S. Junior champ Cory Whitsett, 10th-ranked Morgan Hoffmann, and defending champion Andrew Yun.

Brad will be following his son throughout the tournament, keeping key stats and providing the post-round information his son needs to vie for the title.

“The biggest thing he’s taught me is to learn one thing from every round,” Will said.

• • •

Ray McCarthy is a Golfweek assistant editor. To reach him email [email protected]

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