STILLWATER, Okla. – It was hardly a surprise that Oklahoma State was leading the 13-team field Thursday after the opening round of the NCAA South Central Regional Championship.
After all, the Cowboys are playing on Karsten Creek, their home course and one of the toughest layouts anywhere.
With freshman Peter Uihlein leading the way with an even-par 72, Oklahoma State shot an 8-over 296.
A log jam of teams closely trails the Cowboys in hopes of finishing among the top 5 and advancing to the NCAA Championship May 26-30 at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.
Chattanooga, Arkansas and LSU shot 298, while TCU and Tulsa were another shot back.
The most surprising story Day 1 was the individual leader. Although the NCAA Golf Committee made him the No. 1 seed among the 10 individuals invited into this regional, Trent Peterson of South Dakota State is hardly a household name within college golf circles, especially with his No. 120 Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking.
But he stole the show in the opening round. The senior from Eagan, Minn., shot 67 to grab a three-shot lead over LSU’s John Peterson. The only other players under par with 71s are Kelly Kraft of SMU, Devin Carrey of Louisiana-Lafayette and Ethan Tracy of Arkansas.
“I got off to an OK start,” Peterson said. “Then I just kind of went crazy.”
Peterson rolled in a 12-footer for birdie at the 10th, a 6-footer for birdie at 11 and another 12-footer at 12. His approach to No. 13 hit the pin and he tapped in for another birdie. His fifth consecutive birdie came at No. 14 with a 15-foot putt.
“It was pretty wild in that stretch,” he said. “I did everything right. It’s the best stretch I’ve ever had and to do it on a golf course as tough as this and in a tournament of this importance is just fantastic.”
Peterson said he felt good about his game coming into the regional. He won a tournament and finished second at the Summit League Championship.
“I really hit my long irons well today, and out here I have to because I don’t hit it that long off the tee,” Peterson said.
Oklahoma State is going for its third consecutive victory following titles at the Aggie Invitational and Big 12 Conference. And even with the home-course edge, Cowboy coach Mike McGraw knows his team still has its work to do.
“I feel we can play better, at least I hope we can,” McGraw said.
In addition to Uihlein’s 72, the Cowboys counted a 74 from Kevin Tway and 75s from Trent Leon (whose round consisted of five pars, five birdies and eight bogeys) and Rickie Fowler, who bogeyed his final two holes.
“We missed a number of short birdie putts and struggled a little at the end, but overall I’m not disappointed,” McGraw said. “I just felt we had a chance to have a real good day.”
Arkansas had things going until the final stretch of holes where its four counters played the last three in 5 over.
“I’m pretty pleased with our play,” said Razorback coach Brad McMakin. “The main thing is we gave ourselves the opportunity to do something the next two days. The thing about this golf course is you can have two bad swings and be 10-over par. You definitely have to be patient and know and accept the fact you’re going to make bogeys and then move forward.”
Chattanooga coach Mark Guhne also was happy with his team’s performance.
“The place is hard, I mean really hard,” Guhne said. “To shoot 10 over and be just two shots back is good. I’d take these scores all three rounds and take my chances because I can’t see it getting any easier.”