South Central: Cowboys, Tway roll at Kartsen Creek
STILLWATER, Okla. – Building a 14-shot lead after two rounds, Oklahoma State put it on cruise control Saturday to win the NCAA South Central Regional at Karsten Creek.
No team came within 14 shots at any time during the final round as the Cowboys, No. 2 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings, breezed to a 22-stroke victory.
Sophomore Kevin Tway and freshman Peter Uihlein finished 1-2 for the Cowboys, who shot an 8-over 296 for a 17-over 881 total, sending them to the NCAA Championship for a record 63rd consecutive season.
Arkansas, with a 16-over 304, finished second and earned its first trip to the national championship since the 2004-05 season. Tennessee-Chattanooga secured the third spot and will play at the NCAA Championship for the first time ever.
TCU and Northwestern grabbed the final two spots tying for fourth at 50-over 914.
The NCAA Championship will be played May 26-30 at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.
Northwestern was one of the first teams to finish its round, and at the time was in sixth, five shots behind Baylor, which was playing in the last wave on the opposite side of the course. But the Bears weren’t able to hang on, closing with a 22-over 310 to finish seventh, three strokes behind LSU.
For Oklahoma State, it was the fifth tournament title of the season and the Cowboys’ third in a row following the Aggie Invitational and Big 12 Conference. More importantly, it should give them a full head of steam heading into the NCAA Championship at Inverness, where they won their first event of the season at the Ping/Golfweek Preview.
“It has not been the same guys each week. Everyone is doing their part, and as a coach you have to like that,” Oklahoma State coach Mike McGraw said. “Hopefully, this will help us going into nationals. I just love that golf course and know it’s going to be a real test. I know we won the Preview there in the fall, but I think we’ll be seeing a different course when we get there now. I expect some taller and thicker rough and some faster greens.”
That’s pretty much what the field got the final day at Karsten Creek as a cold, north wind blew steadily all day.
“There’s no question we had an advantage,” McGraw said. “But we still had to go out there and get the job done and that’s what we did.”
For Chattanooga coach Mark Guhne, making it through the regional round for the first time was a huge relief, especially after last season when the Mocs tied for 12th and missed out at the East Regional which was played at Council Fire, their home course.
“Last year was such a huge disappointment and it has weighed on us all season,” Guhne said. “So right now, it feels pretty darn good. Now I feel like the pressure is off.”
With a final-round 2-under 70 for an even-par 216 total, Tway earned his second career victory. He also won the NCAA Central Regional last year.
Tway finished a shot better than Uihlein, who closed with a 3-over 75. Sharing third at 5-over 221 were Cody Paladino of Baylor and John Peterson of LSU. Neither player’s team advanced to the finals so they had a playoff for the lone individual spot for the NCAA Championship.
Paladino defeated Peterson on the second extra hole (par-4, 10th) with a par. Both players made par on the first playoff hole (par-5, 18th). On No. 10, Paladino missed the fairway off the tee and missed the green with his approach, but got up-and-down to save par. Peterson three-putted from 12 feet for bogey.
Tway started the round tied for fifth, four shots behind co-leaders Uihlein and Connor McHenry of Wichita State. He birdied Nos. 8 and 9, bogeyed No. 14, then, in what proved to be the sealer, birdied the par-4 17th, the toughest hole on the course all week.
“I just stayed patient,” Tway said. “I didn’t let it bother me if I made a bogey because I knew a lot of people were going to make bogeys today.”
Tway failed to qualify for the OSU traveling squad to the Big 12 Conference Championship.
Uihlein’s round was anything but steady. He spread four birdies and four bogeys over 15 holes, then doubled No. 17. Uihlein had a chance to share honors with Tway, but missed an 8-foot birdie putt on the final hole.
“I was really rooting for Peter to make that (final) putt,” Tway said.
Added Uihlein: “This course hasn’t been my favorite so to finish second and shoot what I did, I can’t be too disappointed. I’m happy for Kevin, he played well. And, I guess if I’m going to finish second, I’d rather it be to one of my teammates.