27. Oklahoma State
2011-2012 Golfweek rank: 29
Go-to-guy: Talor Gooch
Season outlook: The Cowboys’ 65-year streak of consecutive NCAA Championship appearances ended last season with an eighth-place NCAA regional finish. It was a major disappointment for one of the nation’s most storied programs, but don’t expect coach Mike McGraw and his players to dwell on it much.
“If it takes me giving a speech to motivate our guys, then that’s not right,” McGraw said. “It was the longest streak in any sport, I believe, and I’d think that would be enough to motivate them. You don’t want to dwell on it, but you hope it lights a fire within them.”
Oklahoma State returns every major piece from a season ago, including junior Talor Gooch, senior Sean Einhaus and sophomore Patrick Winther. Gooch won the Oklahoma Stroke Play over the summer and advanced to match play at this week’s U.S. Amateur. He’s the unquestioned leader on the course for the Cowboys, and if he has a strong season, expect Oklahoma State to have one as well.
“Talor is very serious about getting better,” McGraw said. “He was extremely disappointed (about losing at the U.S. Amateur) because he knows he could have won. He’ll use that as motivation. He’s going to be a leader for us, and I think he’ll relish that opportunity.”
Junior Kevin Dougherty, who won the Southwestern Amateur, also returns, and two freshmen, Jordan Niebrugge and Wyndham Clark, have the ability to contribute right away. Niebrugge is ranked No. 40 in Golfweek’s junior rankings.