(STILLWATER, Oklahoma / May 30, 2018) – In front of an orange-heavy crowd totaling over 3,000, the Oklahoma State golf team shut out No. 6 seed Alabama, 5-0, Wednesday afternoon in the NCAA title match at Karsten Creek Golf Club. The win sealed up the storied program’s 11th all-time national championship.
“I have never seen an atmosphere like this,” head coach Alan Bratton said. “I am so proud again for our Oklahoma State family and Cowboy golf. This is bigger than just Cowboy golf. Our fans, they turn out. They did that in a big way. I’m glad the world got to see it, and I’m glad these guys got to live it. It is certainly not about me, it is about all of those players and all of the former players we had. I can’t tell you how many former players we had in the crowd this week. All of us were standing on their shoulders this week.”
The Cowboys’ victory was the first win by a team that won the stroke play portion of the tournament since the inception of match play at the event in 2009. It also marked the first-ever shutout in a national title match. Wrapping up one of the most historic seasons in the sport’s history, OSU became the first team with 10 wins and a national title in a season since 1977.
The Pokes got on the board shortly after the turn as Zach Bauchou routed Jonathan Hodges, 8 and 7, to put OSU up, 1-0. Bauchou was outstanding throughout the round, carding a 29 on the front nine to carry a 7-up lead into the turn thanks in part to a chip-in eagle on the ninth. The Cowboy junior followed it up with a par to win the 10th and another par to square the 11th and lock up the match.
“I played really well today,” Bauchou said. “All aspects of my game. I struggled with my driving throughout the week. Today I came out and was hitting nice fades off the tee so I was putting the ball in play, and my iron play was really good. The strength of my game is my putting. I got a little heat with my putter. I made a bunch of one-putts in a row and that sets the pace for the day, which is really nice.”
Sophomore Viktor Hovland was the next player on the board for OSU with a 4-and-3 win over Alabama’s Lee Hodges. Hovland sank a birdie to win the first hole as the first Cowboy on the course and never looked back, stretching his lead to 4-up with a birdie on 14 before a par to halve the 15th and clinch the win.
Hovland was nearly automatic all week for the Cowboys, opening his tournament with a 1-under in stroke play to finish tied for 11th overall before going 3-0 in match play to help lift the Pokes to the championship. He pushed his career record in NCAA match play to 4-0.
“I was in good positions off the tee,” Hovland said. “I hit a lot of good iron shots pretty close and managed to hole some putts to keep the momentum going.”
A roar erupted from the 15th green as freshman Matthew Wollf drained a 12-foot birdie putt for the Cowboys’ third point. With the putt, Wolff dispatched of Alabama junior Davis Riley, 4 and 3, to ensure the championship trophy.
“I had been putting good all day,” Wolff said. “I’d been hitting my lines. I knew I have been having confidence and everything was feeling really good. Me and my coach picked a spot and he just said right before I hit the putt, ‘It’s just like the first hole of the day’. When I made that eagle putt and it gave me a lot of confidence and I shouldered it right in.”
As the match was clinched, Kristoffer Ventura locked up a 4-and-3 triumph over Wilson Furr. After reaching the turn trailing, 1-down, Ventura turned it on by taking the next four holes to inflate his lead to 3-up.
“(Winning a title) was our goal all year. We knew we had a really good team and to do this this way it just unbelievable. Its just hard to explain. It is just trust. I know my buddies are going to play good out there and I can just free up. That is the main thing and that is what we did this year.”
Freshman Austin Eckroat led, 1-up, over freshman Davis Shore through 13 as the match was clinched. Eckroat and Shore battled it out on the front nine, but Eckroat was able to win the ninth with a birdie to give himself a lead he would not relinquish.
OSU claims its first NCAA Championship since 2006 and the school’s 52nd overall across all sports. With the win, Bratton becomes the fourth OSU coach to lead the Cowboys to a national title, joining the likes of Mike Holder, Mike McGraw and Labron Harris. The Cowboys have also finished second or better at the event an impressive 28 times.
No. 1 Oklahoma State 5, No. 6 Alabama 0
May 30, 2018 | Karsten Creek Golf Club | Stillwater, Okla.
Viktor Hovland (OSU) 4&3 Lee Hodges (Alabama)
Matthew Wolff (OSU) 4&3 Davis Riley (Alabama)
Kristoffer Ventura (OSU) 3&2 Wilson Furr (Alabama)
Austin Eckroat (OSU) 1up Davis Shore (Alabama)
Zach Bauchou (OSU) 8&7 Jonathan Hardee (Alabama)