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Wildman’s Walk: This feels like a championship

STILLWATER, Okla. – The Wildman was fired up for his walk when I started on the back nine. Teeing off in the afternoon was a dream pairing of Oklahoma State, UCLA and Alabama. The gallery was large, supportive and all dressed in orange and black.

It was a very strong showing by Cowboys nation, but the best part is there was a gallery to see the great talent at Karsten Creek this week.

While on the walk it was the little things I noticed that truly make this a championship.

You have to start with the course, which is in amazing condition. The fairways look wide and welcoming, the greens aren’t rolling too fast but look picture perfect, and the surroundings are picturesque. The grounds crew at Karsten Creek should be commended for a job extremely well done.

Every couple of holes, there are water coolers . . . for free! Oklahoma State clearly isn’t trying to overcharge for a 20-ounce bottle of water, as there are water stations every few tee boxes. It’s a nice touch, and it seemed like it was appreciated by many fans and spectators.

If there is one thing that raised my eyebrow a bit was how close some parents and fans get to the players. On the course, there are signs that say walking in the fairways is allowed, but to stay out of the rough. I understand not wanting to flatten the rough, but in my opinion, it looked like some people were closer than need be.

With parents walking close, as well as fans, it appears from afar that outside advice may be occurring from where it shouldn’t. A usual comment from a fan lasts about two words: “Nice shot.” However, at times today, it appeared that lengthier conversations may be occurring. The last thing anyone wants to see is a player being penalized or disqualified because of talking to an outside source.

After yesterday’s practice round, teams looked defeated. Winds were blowing hard and players faced the hard realization that there are not a lot of scoring opportunities. Today, that was not the case at all. Several players attacked on a very calm day at Karsten. As long as players kept their ball in the fairway, they were OK. But if they found the rough, they easily added a stroke to their score.

This week truly feels like a championship, and I can’t wait to see how the rest of the week develops.

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