Men's spring preview: Big 12 Conference
During the month of January, Golfweek will preview the spring season for each conference. Check out all of the previews here.
Today, we look at the Big 12 Conference:
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5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
• Top of the class: Oklahoma State
• Player to watch: Wyndham Clark, Oklahoma State: No. 7 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings, Clark finished the season with three top-4 finishes, including a runner-up finish at the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate. Looks like it was the right move to redshirt last year and start his collegiate career in the 2013-14 season.
• Freshman to watch: Gavin Hall and Beau Hossler, Texas: Both were supposed to make an immediate impact. With a semester under their belts, let’s see what the freshmen have up their sleeves for the spring.
• Conference championship: April 25-27, Whispering Pines GC, Trinity, Texas
• Past champions (since 2009): Texas (2013), Texas A&M (2012), Oklahoma State (2009-11)
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(Golfweek/Sagarin rank in parentheses)
- Oklahoma State (No. 3): The Cowboys started the season by placing third at the Fighting Illini Invitational and the Jack Nicklaus Invitational. The team then kicked on the after-burners and won the U.S. Collegiate and the Royal Oaks Invitational. Sophomore Jordan Niebrugge had one top 10 after winning four events over the summer and played for Team USA at the Walker Cup. Instead, it was redshirt freshman Wyndham Clark and senior Ian Davis leading the way. Senior Kevin Dougherty picked up his first collegiate win at Royal Oaks. This is a team that will contend for the national title at season's end.
- Oklahoma (No. 12): The team started off with a win at the Golfweek Conference Challenge and a runner-up finish at the Jack Nicklaus Invitational. The Sooners then placed third at the Erin Hills Intercollegiate and sixth at the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate. The Sooners have a good core of five starters. Of the players who logged 12 rounds during the fall, they have five top-10 finishes among them. With six tournaments before the Big 12 Championship, the Sooners need to continue to stay consistent during the spring in order to contend with Oklahoma State.
- Texas (No. 18): Without junior Kramer Hickok, who missed the fall with a wrist injury, the Longhorns’ best finish was at the Fighting Illini Invitational, where the team finished second. Between senior Toni Hakula and freshman Gavin Hall, the two finished as the low player each time for the team. It will be interesting to see how quickly Hickok returns to form – Texas coach John Fields said Hickok was about 85 percent at one point during the winter break – and Hicock will be able to test his wrist at the New Year's Invitational. Texas will have two tournaments to get ready for the Southern Highlands Collegiate.
- Baylor (No. 26): The Bears finished second at the Gopher Invitational and the Rod Myers Invitational this fall, and had a third-place finish at the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate. Sophomore Kyle Jones had three top-10 finishes this spring and led the team with a 70.8 stroke average. Senior Jerry Ruiz had two top-10 finishes. Baylor got contributions from sophomore Andreas Gjesteby, who placed 15th at the Gopher Invitational and played in all five tournaments this fall.
- Iowa State (No. 40): The Cyclones had their best finishes during the middle of the season where the team finished second in three consecutive events – the Regional Preview, the VCU Shootout and the David Toms Invitational. Freshman Nick Voke of New Zealand, lead the team with three top-10 finishes in four events. Also helping was junior Scott Fernandez of Spain with two top-10s. Australians Sam Daley, a junior, and Rueben Sondjaja, a freshman, played in all 14 rounds during the spring.
- Texas Tech (No. 58): One top-10 by Matias Dominguez was the highlight of the Red Raiders fall season. The team’s best finish was at the team’s first tournament of the season at the Carmel Cup at Pebble Beach. Granted the fields were much better in the Fighting Illini Invitational and the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational, and the team finished eighth and 13th, respectively. Juniors Clement Sordet and Henry Todd joined Dominguez in playing all three tournaments this fall.
- TCU (No. 59): The Horned Frogs finished third at the William H. Tucker Intercollegiate, fifth at the Crooked Stick Intercollegiate and 15th at the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational. Junior Julien Brun picked up where he left off last season with two top-10 finishes to start the fall. Sophomore Paul Barjon had a top-5 showing at Crooked Stick.
- Kansas State (No. 106): A second-place finish at its own Jim Colbert Intercollegiate highlighted the fall season for Kansas State. Senior Alex Carney came close to an individual win at the Jim Colbert, but finished as the runner-up. The team’s overall stroke average was 73.76.
- Kansas (No. 109): The Jayhawks finished second at the Badger Invitational. Freshman Chase Hanna captured his first top 5 at the Badger and led the team with a 72.93 stroke average through five events.
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Lance Ringler weighs in on the conference title race
One of the better conferences from top to bottom this year in college golf. The favorite at this point is Oklahoma State and that most likely will not change. Oklahoma and Texas have a lot of firepower and could give the Cowboys a run come conference tourney time. But, expect Oklahoma State to stay near the top of the national rankings and make a run at a national title this year.