BURLINGTON, Iowa –– Four years ago, Oklahoma head coach Ryan Hybl led the Sooners to victory at the 2009 Kansas Invitational in his coaching debut with the program.
Now in his fifth year at Oklahoma, Hybl can claim another season-opening victory.
Entering the final round of the Golfweek Conference Challenge with a 13-shot lead, the Sooners turned in a 1-over 289 to finish at 7-under 857 and secure a four-shot victory Tuesday at Spirit Hollow Golf Course.
“We kind of held on,” Hybl said. “We didn’t play great today, but we did what we needed to do to get the job done. I know the guys are actually a little bit disappointed, which is kind of a good sign for me knowing that they’re a little frustrated because we didn’t actually put the pedal down.”
After a second-round 10-under 278 gave the Sooners a big cushion entering the final round, Oklahoma saw several teams make a run at the lead Tuesday. Virginia Tech used a final-round 278 to record a second-place finish while New Mexico pulled to within four shots at one point Tuesday before finishing fourth, a shot back of third-place Houston.
The Hokies got an 8-under 64 from junior Scott Vincent, who shared individual medalist honors at 6 under with LSU junior Stewart Jolly. (Click here to read more about Vincent’s round, which included five birdies and an eagle in his final six holes.)
Oklahoma counted just two sub-70 scores at Spirit Hollow – sophomore Beau Titsworth’s 68 and freshman Max McGreevy’s 69, both in the second round – but it didn’t have a single player shoot worse than 2 over in any of the three rounds.
And every player carded at least one under-par round. The player who counted two was McGreevy, who carded rounds of 73-69-71 to finish in a tie for fifth in his first collegiate start.
Titsworth, who held a share of the second-round lead, shot 74 in the final round to end his tournament at 1 under and in a tie for 10th place, his best finish of his young college career. Junior Charlie Saxon (T-7) and senior Michael Schoolcraft (T-13) also notched top 15s for the Sooners.
“I think this is the strongest team we’ve ever had, and I think coach will probably agree from that aspect, too,” Titsworth said. “I think everyone’s got about the same firepower, we’re all capable of going low and I think we’re way more consistent than we have been in the past.”
While the final result was the same, Hybl knows this team isn’t like the one that won its 2009 season opener.
“We did a good job that week to win, but we weren’t very good that year,” Hybl said.
That 2009 squad didn’t win another tournament and finished T-7 at the 2010 Big 12 Championship. A year later, though, Oklahoma qualified for what would be the first of three consecutive trips to the NCAA Championship.
The Sooners are expecting to make it four straight appearances this year, and although Hybl knows you don’t win national titles in September, he’s still pleased with the way the season has begun for his guys.
“This is a great start for us,” Hybl said. “Hopefully, we can carry all this momentum throughout the year. But we got a long ways to go, a lot to learn. We got a young group here this week, too, so it’s exciting.
“We saw some legitimate firepower this week, a lot of guys made some birdies, which I haven’t seen the last couple years.”