2002: College - Cowboys head to regionals with victory
After 28 years and eight NCAA titles as a college coach, Oklahoma State’s Mike Holder knows you have to remain optimistic about your team – in good times and bad.
He also knows it’s a lot easier when times are good, which they are for Oklahoma State, especially after the Cowboys captured the 11th Perry Maxwell Intercollegiate title May 12 at Dornick Hills Country Club.
Although the Cowboys won the Jerry Pate Intercollegiate last fall, things have been shaky much of the spring. So when they finished the Maxwell with a 13-over-par 853 to beat Houston by four strokes, it was enough to give Holder something to smile about, especially with the NCAA Division I Central Regional this weekend (May 16-18 at Pleasant Valley Country Club in Little Rock, Ark.).
“This is the first time this spring we showed we can beat some quality teams, especially Texas (which finished fourth, 11 shots back),” said Holder, whose Cowboys are No. 6 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, just behind the Longhorns. “Texas has beat up on us all spring, so this helped us prove something, at least to ourselves.
“It’s been a rocky road all spring. There’s been more downs than ups until the last few weeks. We finished second at the Big 12 Conference (behind Texas), but made it close. Here we were able to close it out, and that should do a lot for our confidence going into regionals.”
The Cowboys led wire-to-wire with rounds of 283-282-288. Going into the final round, Oklahoma State held a four-shot lead over Houston, with Texas, which had won its last four tournaments, seven strokes back and Oklahoma eight behind.
The Cowboys quickly widened their margin and were 6 under through eight holes and 1 under on the tournament, nine shots in front of Houston.
But the Cowboys had a double bogey and two bogeys on the ninth hole, and the race suddenly tightened.
“After the ninth hole, we never got our momentum back,” Holder said. “It was a struggle the whole back nine. But I’m proud of the way they hung in there and battled.”
Still, the closest anyone got to Oklahoma State down the stretch was the final four-shot margin.
On the individual side, Houston junior Brett Callas fired a final-round, 3-under 67 for a 3-under 207 total and a two-shot victory over John Kidwell and Cody Freeman of Oklahoma and Kyle Willmann of Texas Tech, whose second-round 64 was a tournament best.
It was Callas’ first college title. His best previous finishes were an 18th at the Conference USA Championship and a tie for 20th at the Cleveland Golf/Southwestern Intercollegiate.
Callas started the last round in fourth place at even par, two strokes behind co-leaders Hunter Mahan of Oklahoma State and Freeman.
Mahan, a sophomore who has won three times this season, was at the top of the leaderboard at 3 under when he made the turn, but a bogey on No. 11 and a double bogey after an out-of-bounds tee shot on No. 13 knocked him back. He never recovered.
Kidwell was 3 under and leading through 16, but bogeyed the final two holes to finish at 1 under, tied for second with Willmann and Freeman.
Callas birdied No. 6 to get to 1 under for the tournament and also added birdies at Nos. 10, 14 and 15 to grab the lead at 4 under. He hit his tee shot in the water at the par-3 17th but had an outstanding up and down, sinking a 10-foot putt to save bogey.
“I made some clutch putts the last two days,” said Callas, who had previous rounds of 72-68. “I’ve been striking the ball well lately, so coming in I felt pretty good about my game.
“And now to finally get a win, well, I know it will be a big-time lift for me heading into the regionals. I think our whole team got a boost of confidence here.”