Oklahoma State will go down as one of the best, despite falling short of NCAA Championship

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Oklahoma State will go down as one of the best, despite falling short of NCAA Championship

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Oklahoma State will go down as one of the best, despite falling short of NCAA Championship

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More excitement in college golf also has created a problem.

There are teams failing to win the NCAA Championship that are clearly some of the best teams in the history of the sport.

This year’s Oklahoma State team is arguably one of the best we may see in a single season, yet it was another team that came up short of bringing home the championship trophy. The idea that the 2018-19 Oklahoma State squad can’t be considered one of the best golf teams simply because it did not win the NCAA Championship is complete nonsense.

Why? Because we can’t make that call for a team based on two completely different ways of competing. Teams earn the No. 1 ranking or earn an at-large bid into postseason based on stroke play during the regular season. They even earn a spot in match play based on stroke play.

PHOTOS: NCAA championships 2019

Match play decides the championship, but it can’t be a dent in the armor when determining if the team is one of the best.

This has happened before. Much like Oklahoma State this year at the Blessings Golf Club, California did not win the title in 2013 after an almost perfect season leading up to the championship.

The 2012-13 Cal squad and this past season’s Oklahoma State team both lost in the match-play semifinals. Each won the 72-hole stroke play segment of the NCAA Championship. California won by six shots over Georgia Tech at the Capitol City Club in Alpharetta, Ga., and the Cowboys won by a margin of 31 shots over Vanderbilt.

Now consider this: The largest stroke-play difference from the No. 1 spot to the No. 8 spot since the field went to 72 holes of qualifying in 2015 was 20 shots. That happened at Rich Harvest Farms in 2017. This year, Oklahoma State’s difference from first to second place was 31.

California won 11 tournaments in 14 starts during the 2012-13 season and if you count the 72 holes of stroke play as an event, they won 12 out of 14 with only a third-place showing at the Arizona Intercollegiate and a runner-up finish at the ASU Thunderbird Invitational.

RELATED: OSU’s Wolff claims individual title

The Cowboys this past season were not as dominant in the win department. However, they finished the season with the biggest difference in power rating in the history of the Golfweek/Sagarin ratings while playing the toughest schedule in college golf. That’s largely credited to the stroke differentials they accumulated throughout the course of the year.

Oklahoma State finished the year with a 68.13 power rating which is 1.17 better than Texas at No. 2. The next best in this department was the 2002-03 Clemson team that was 1.00 better than No. 2 Florida.

Led by the top two players in college golf, Matthew Wolff and Viktor Hovland, Oklahoma State won six times in 11 starts prior to NCAAs, where they won the stroke play going away. One thing to note is the Cowboys were not always at full strength with players missing college tournaments to play in various PGA Tour events or a major, as Hovland did when he competed in the Masters while his OSU teammates were in Tempe for the ASU Thunderbird Invitational.

It is difficult to compare teams from different time periods. It’s hard to make the comparison of any of the teams in the past 20 years to the likes of Houston, Wake Forest and Oklahoma State squads of the past.

One year ago, Oklahoma State pulled off the trifecta – winning the stroke-play part of the championship, winning the NCAA title in match play and being ranked No. 1 at season’s end. The Cowboys came up short this year in match play, but in no way should a 3-2 loss in a match-play contest cast a shadow on this team when we talk about the best of all time or even best of an era.

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