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The preseason favorites wasted no time in 2017-18, as Oklahoma State cruised to victory Sunday to start the season.
The Cowboys, Golfweek‘s preseason No. 1, scorched Pebble Beach Golf Links in the first and third rounds at the season-opening Carmel Cup, going with 22-under 338 on Day 1 to race out to a 12-shot lead and close in a 20-under 340 to finish off a 14-shot romp.
In between, Oklahoma State managed a 10-under 350, and entered the final round with a three-shot lead.
As it finished, no team came close to the Cowboys. Oklahoma State’s 52-under total was well ahead of the rest, as Texas Tech, Golfweek‘s preseason No. 20, came in a distant second at 38 under after closing in 9-under 351. Oklahoma, the defending national champions and preseason No. 7, rallied to solo third at 33 under thanks to a closing 13-under 347 (the day’s second-best round). Vanderbilt, the preseason No. 3, dropped to fourth at 27 under following a 7-under 353 to close.
The Cowboys entered the 2017-18 season as the clear top choice to win the national title, considering their top ranking and the fact the 2018 NCAA Championship will be played on the program’s home course (Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.).
This showing did absolutely nothing to dispel that notion.
The team shined in the rare six-count-five format, no surprise considering the Cowboys are one of if not the deepest team in the country.
Junior Hayden Wood led the way, opening in 8-under 64 for the early lead and following up with rounds of 67 and 66 to finish 19 under and tied at the top. Kristoffer Ventura, a senior, finished in a tie for fourth at 12 under.
Three more Cowboys placed in the top 15, with junior Zach Bauchou (T-11, 8 under), senior Brendon Jelley (T-13, 7 under) and freshman Matthew Wolff (T-15, 6 under) among that bunch. Sophomore Viktor Hovland was the remaining team member, and he posted a T-23 finish at 3 under.
Every single Cowboys player posted an under-par total, and all of them shot in the 60s on the final day.
It was quite a showing that marked Oklahoma State’s third consecutive win at the event, but the Cowboys couldn’t pull off the sweep.
Wood finished in tie for first at 19 under with Texas Tech’s Hurly Long. But the duo would go to a playoff to decide the individual champion.
Long, a senior, sealed the individual title on the first extra hole, Pebble’s par-4 first, by two-putting from 20 feet for par after Wood lipped out his 25-footer for par.
This marks the second straight year the Red Raiders had the individual champion at this event, with Fredrik Nilehn taking those honors in 2016.
Long, a German native who transferred from Oregon after the 2014-15 season, gets the first victory of his college career with this triumph.
It took an incredible performance to do it. Long opened in a respectable 3-under 69 but then went berserk in Round 2, starting birdie-birdie-par-birdie-birdie-eagle to be 6 under through six. A bogey at the eighth slowed his roll, but Long proceeded to birdie Nos. 10-11, 14-15 and 17-18 to close in 30 and fire an 11-under 61, a new course record. That 61 also tied the school record for low round, matching the mark set by Finley Ewing at the 2012 Royal Oaks International.
Long’s 61 earned him a one-shot lead, and he started the final round par-eagle-birdie on his way to a 5-under 67. And still he needed one more hole to finish things off.
Long and Wood finished six shots ahead of the field, with Oklahoma’s Garett Reband placing solo third at 13 under.
Texas Tech boasted three players in the top 15, with Sandy Scott (solo 10th, 9 under) and Nilehn (T-13, 7 under) joining Long.
Oklahoma had two players beside Reband in the top 11, with Grant Hirschman (T-8, 10 under) and Brad Dalke (T-11, 8 under) representing that group.
Patrick Martin (T-4, 12 under) led the Vanderbilt charge, although Will Gordon and John Augenstein (both T-6, 11 under) also factored in a good deal.
TCU finished fifth at 16 under, with preseason No. 18 Arkansas sixth at 9 under. Georgia placed seventh at 4 under, and Ohio State took eighth (last) at 1 over.