Oklahoma St. lead shrinks to one at Preview
STILLWATER, Okla. – As host team for this year’s Ping/Golfweek Preview, Oklahoma State went all out to be as accommodating as possible to the other 14 teams in the field while away the Karsten Creek golf course.
However, the Cowboys went one step further Monday when they proved quite accommodating on the golf course.
After grabbing a nine-shot lead in Round 1, thanks to an even-par 288 under cold and very windy conditions, Oklahoma State brought a host of teams back into contention with just 18 holes to play.
Oddly enough, with no wind and under sunny and warm skies, the Cowboys shot 8-over 296 for a 584 total and will enter Tuesday’s final round just a shot in front of Georgia Tech and Georgia, with UCLA three strokes behind. Those three were the only teams to shoot under par in the second round, with Georgia posting a day’s best, a 3-under 285.
Texas A&M (591) is seven shots back, and Augusta State (592) is eight behind.
“Some days you get it going, some days you don’t. We obviously didn’t today,” Oklahoma State coach Mike McGraw said. “But that’s just golf. Yesterday, even in those conditions, seemed so easy for the guys. Today, we just weren’t able to do the things you need to do to play well.”
McGraw said he will tell his players to “do whatever you can tonight to get yourself in the right frame of mind for tomorrow.”
Take 5: Ping/Golfweek Preview (Rd. 2)
Although the race for the team title is much closer, McGraw remained upbeat – or as upbeat as could be expected.
“The good news is, we still are in first place,” he said. “Sure, it’s only a one-shot lead, but it’s one shot better than we were when we started the tournament.”
If not for a bogey on the final hole from its last man, Georgia Tech would have had a share of the lead. Still, Yellow Jackets coach Bruce Heppler likes what he sees from his squad.
“What you try to do in every tournament is make the last round meaningful, and we’ve done that again,” Heppler said. “I’m looking forward to tomorrow and the challenge. You go against the No. 1 team in the country on their golf course. If you can’t enjoy and look forward to that, then it’s time to go get a desk job somewhere.”
Georgia, too, could have had a share of the lead, but its No. 1 player Russell Henley, winner of last season’s Haskins Award as college player of the year, saw a 5-under 67 round turn into a 68 when he incurred a one-stroke slow-play penalty.
“I received a warning after the 12th hole and I tried as hard as I could to stay in position,” Henley said. “I thought I was doing better, but at the 17th they (rules official) told me I was penalized a stroke.
“I think it’s debatable and I’m definitely disappointed, but I respect the rules and will move on,” Henley said. “I know there are times when I’m a little slow, and it’s something I’ve really been working on and hopefully it’s getting better. Right now, I just have to put it behind me and go out tomorrow and play the best I can.”
Henley’s senior teammate Hudson Swafford also posted 68 and moved from a tied for 20th into the individual lead at 1-under 143.
Going into the final round, Swafford will take a two-shot edge over Virginia’s Ben Kohles, UCLA’s Pontus Widegren and Georgia Tech’s Richy Werenski and J.T. Griffin.
Swafford got off to a solid start when he birdied Nos. 1, 2 and 4 to go 3 under. He gave two back with bogeys at Nos. 6 and 8. He made birdie at the ninth, only to bogey the 11th. But he came on strong the rest of the way with birdies at 12, 14 and 18.
“I was able to put myself in the right spots and give myself a lot of chances,” Swafford said. “I drove the ball well and just felt comfortable out there all day. The golf course and the conditions were a little more accommodating today, but you still have to play well, and I was able to do that.”
The best round of the day belonged to Augusta State’s Patrick Reed, and what a round – and turnaround – it was.
Reed, a first-team preseason Golfweek All-American, opened the tournament with an uncharacteristic 79.
And his opening nine holes in the second round proved quite amazing as he shot 6-under 30 with seven birdies, one bogey and one par.
On the back side, he had birdies at 13 and 18 and a bogey at 12. It could have been a really great performance had he not double bogeyed the par-5 14th. Still, his 5-under 67 enabled him to surge from a tie for 47th into a tie for sixth and definitely in the hunt to win at 2-over 146.
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T.J. Vogel of USC had to withdraw from the first round after 13 holes with a groin/lower-back injury left him just about unable to walk. He thought he was done for the tournament. But he received treatment from an OSU trainer just before the second round and decided he would give it another go.
While still bothered and in some pain, Vogel shot 74, low man for the day for the Trojans. Though still in 15th place, USC used Vogel’s effort to shoot 17-over 305 on the day, 26 shots better than the first-round performance.
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Arizona State’s Scott Pinckney withdrew from the second round with a rib injury and was listed as questionable for the final round.
Pinckney opened with 74 when the Sun Devils shot 307 and finished the day in ninth place.
Playing four-handed in Round 2, Arizona State matched that 307 score, but dropped to 11th in the team standings at 38-over 614.