Oklahoma State coach Mike Holder knew exactly where his team stood as he and the Cowboys came to the last hole May 15 at the 14th Maxwell Intercollegiate.
Because of the Maxwell’s unique format – which has five players from each team playing together, with the best four scores on each hole counting toward the team total – Holder knew that Augusta State held a one-shot lead over his Cowboys.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time,” said Holder, now in his 32nd year at the OSU helm. “This is the first time I came to the last hole knowing exactly what we needed to do to win a tournament. I told the guys on the 18th tee we needed two birdies to win.”
That’s exactly what Holder received.
Tyler Leon ran in a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th to ensure a tie, and moments later, teammate Alex Noren tapped in an 18-inch birdie putt to seal the victory as the Cowboys captured their fourth consecutive Maxwell title at the par-70 Dornick Hills Country Club course.
The Cowboys, No. 1 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings, shot a closing 10-under-par 270 for a 25-under 815 total to edge Augusta State, which also closed with 270, by a single shot.
Georgia (271) finished third at 17-under 823.
It was OSU’s seventh victory of the season and its third in a row, giving the Cowboys plenty of momentum going into this week’s NCAA Central Regional in South Bend, Ind.
“There was a lot of pressure out there today, especially on the last hole,” said Holder. “We’ve had a number of close tournaments this year and hopefully they help us grow as a team.
“I want to see our guys keep the same aggressive play at the regionals as they showed this week.”
Individually, Georgia sophomore Brendon Todd notched his first victory of the season with a 7-under 203 total (71-67-65), tying the tournament record.
“I putted very well the last two rounds and that was the key,” said Todd. “I’ve been playing really steady lately and making a lot of pars. I’ve just been waiting to break out and have some of those birdie putts start dropping.”
The final birdie putt by Noren, a senior from Sweden, not only secured the victory for the Cowboys but capped off a tournament-record 7-under 63, placing him one shot behind Todd. Noren’s round included a 5-under 31 on the back nine and featured six birdies and an eagle against a lone bogey.
Tulsa’s Mitch Cohlmia (70) was third at 5-under 205.
For the record, Oklahoma State still would have won using the traditional college format of counting the best four of five scores at the end of each round. The Cowboys would have shot an even-par 840 and beat Augusta State by five shots.