Rio Grande, Puerto Rico
For the most part, assistant coaches go unnoticed, living and working in the shadows of the head coach.
Mike McGraw is in his sixth season as assistant to Mike Holder at Oklahoma State. He had been given the lead coaching reins on six previous occasions with the Cowboys. On the seventh, McGraw stepped into the spotlight, leading Oklahoma State to the title Feb. 25 at the Westin Rio Mar Puerto Rico Collegiate Classic. Holder was unable to make the trip after undergoing back surgery in mid-January.
“This feels pretty good,” said a smiling McGraw. “I haven’t won a tournament (as a head coach) since high school golf.”
The Cowboys, making their first appearance in the 11-year event, overcame a six-shot, final-round deficit with a 6-under-par 282 on the River Course at Rio Mar Country Club.
“We talked last night, and I told them I didn’t care if they finished first or fifth as long as they went out and played a solid last round,” said McGraw. “We didn’t have any set number coming in. We just wanted to give it our best effort, and if someone played great and beat us, so be it. They did just that, and I’m proud of them – and I’m sure Coach Holder will be proud of them.”
The Cowboys, who moved from No. 23 to No. 12 in the Golfweek/ Sagarin College Rankings, finished with a 2-under 862 total, 10 shots in front of top-ranked Clemson, reigning NCAA champion Minnesota and No. 10 Texas.
First- and second-round leader North Carolina State fell to sixth at 874 following a closing 301.
Individually, Justin Walters of N.C. State and Jason Hartwick of Texas shared medalist honors at 5-under 211. They reached that score on completely opposite roads the final round, with Hartwick shooting a solid 5-under 67 and Walters coming back from a front-nine 40 with a back-nine 31 for a 1-under 71.
Sharing third place at 2-under 214 were Clemson’s Gregg Jones, Oklahoma State’s Hunter Mahan and Zack Robinson, Georgia Tech’s Troy Matteson and N.C. State’s Fernando Mechereffe.
Leading the final-day charge for Oklahoma State were Mahan, who bounced back from a second-round 76 with a closing 67, and Chris Clarke, who finished eighth overall, with a 70. Robinson shot 72 and Par Nilsson 73.