Fowler powers Cowboys to Aggie lead
BRYAN, Texas — Led by Rickie Fowler and Peter Uihlein, Oklahoma State had four players post sub-70 rounds as the Cowboys surged into the lead after the first round of the weather-plagued Aggie Invitational.
Using a scoring format of play six-count five, Oklahoma State shot 19-under-par 341 and holds a five-shot lead over host Texas A&M. San Diego State is a distant third in the 12-team field at 4-under 356.
Morning thunderstorms forced the opening round to be delayed until a 1 p.m. shotgun start. The event, which also had its Friday practice round washed out due to heavy storms, will be reduced from 54 to 36 holes with the final 18 set for Sunday morning.
The wet conditions softened the course, and with little wind in the afternoon and the players allowed to lift, clean and place, the scoring conditions were ideal.
Fowler, a sophomore and last season’s Ben Hogan Award winner, took full advantage, as did Texas A&M senior Bronson Burgoon. Playing in the same group, the two came in with 7-under-par 65s on the 7,146-yard Traditions Club course.
Another shot back was Cowboy freshman Uihlein, whose round was sparked by an eagle 2 at No. 8 and a birdie 2 at No. 9.
In posting his lowest collegiate round, Fowler was off and running in a hurry. He birdied five consecutive holes — Nos. 2-6 — and added another at No. 9 to make the turn in 6-under 30. He added his final birdie at No. 15.
“I really didn’t think we would get to play today the way it was raining this morning,” Fowler said. “But it turned out pretty nice and a perfect day to go low.
“I’ve been struggling a little, not so much with my ball striking, but with my scoring so it feels really good to finally have a round like this and get myself back in a scoring state of mind,” Fowler said.
Burgoon said he didn’t feel comfortable with his swing early in the round, but finally found a rhythm on the back nine.
“After watching Rickie in the stretch early in the round, I knew I had to do something and get myself going if I was going to keep up,” Burgoon said. “I was finally able to put the ball in the right spots off the tee and take advantage of some opportunities.”
Like Fowler, Burgoon did not have a bogey. He birdied Nos. 1, 3 and 6 to turn in 33. He got it going on the back side with birdies at 12, 14, 15 and 17.
In addition to Fowler and Uihlein, Oklahoma State had contributions from Morgan Hoffmann and Trent Whitekiller. Both shot 69s and Kevin Tway had an even-par 72.
“It turned out to be a perfect day for scoring,” said Oklahoma State coach Mike McGraw. “There was no wind, soft, slow greens and you could lift, clean and place. The guys certainly did what they had to do.
“You always hope that you can build momentum as the year goes on and especially the closer you get to the postseason. For us, today was a good step in that direction.”
Texas A&M also put forth a solid team effort with its throw-out score being an even-par 72. In addition to Burgoon, Andrea Pavan shot 69, Matt Van Zandt had 70, and John Hurley and Ignacio Elvira had 71s.
“It was almost like cheating out there today,” said Aggie coach J.T. Higgins. “The course was soft, no wind, and you could drop out of bunkers (filled with water) and lift, clean and place your ball.
“Still I’m proud of our guys. They went out and shot the low numbers on a day when they were expected to shoot low numbers. But trust me, I expect tomorrow we’re going to see Traditions show its teeth. I don’t think you’ll be seeing these kind of scores.”
The course should dry out a great deal and the weather forecast is calling for mostly sunny skies with temperatures in the mid-to-high 70s.
“Believe me, it will be a totally different golf course from what they saw out there today,” Higgins said.