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Thursday, March 8, 2018

Oklahoma State looks like the No. 1 team in the country in Querencia Cabo Collegiate victory

   A year ago Oklahoma State rolled into San Jose del Cabo, Mexico for the Querencia Cabo Collegiate and proceeded to dust the golf course and an elite field with a ridiculous 29-under-par 823 total.
   The Cowboys arrived back in San Jose del Cabo this week as the No. 1 team in the latest Golfstat rankings. And once again they found the 6,898-yard, par-71 Querencia Golf Club layout to their liking. And while Oklahoma State only finished at 14-under 838 this time around, it was more than good enough to beat one of the best fields gathered in the spring campaign by eight shots.
   Oklahoma State got the jump on the field Sunday with a sparkling 8-under 276, added a 2-under 282 in Monday’s second round and finished up with a 4-under 280. No. 10 California hung with the Cowboys, cutting its deficit to just a shot after a 6-under 278 in the middle round.
   But the Golden Bears, despite getting a brilliant 7-under 64 from individual winner Collin Morikawa, a junior from La Canada Flintridge, Calif., couldn’t keep up the pace in the final round, posting a 3-over 287 for a 6-under 846 total. They were the only other team under par.
   Oklahoma State’s Big 12 rival Texas finished third, but the Longhorns were 12 shots behind California at 6-over 858. No. 22 Arizona State was another shot behind the Longhorns in fourth at 7-over 859 and No. 35 Duke, the reigning ACC champion, was another shot behind Arizona State in fifth at 8-over 860.
   No. 21 South Florida and No. 18 Arkansas finished tied for sixth at 862, the three-time reigning American Athletic Conference champion Bulls surging up the leaderboard with the best round of the day Tuesday, a 6-under 278. No. 3 Vanderbilt, the reigning Southeastern Conference champion, finished eighth in the elite 15-team field, a final round of 1-under 283 giving the Commodores a 13-over 865 total.
   You could hardly call it a bad spring for Oklahoma State after it got done rampaging through the field in the Querencia Cabo Collegiate a year ago.
   The Cowboys finished a shot behind Texas in the Big 12 Championship in cold and howling winds at a tough Prairie Dunes County Club layout. They turned the tables on the Longhorns to win the Austin Regional team title on Texas’ home course by two shots.
   Oklahoma State was one of the final eight still standing for match play in the NCAA Championship at Rich Harvest Farms, but lost to Oregon in the quarterfinals. It didn’t ease the pain of that loss to see cross-state rival Oklahoma capture the NCAA crown.
   The NCAA Championship will be played on the Cowboys’ home course of Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla. this spring. Redemption for an unsatisfying 2017 might very well be at hand.
   Matthew Wolff, a freshman from Agoura Hills, Calif., led the way for the Cowboys, firing rounds of 65, 68 and 67 that somehow was only good for runnerup honors at 13-under 200.
   He finished three shots behind Morikawa, one of the many heroes of the winning U.S. Walker Cup team last summer. The final-round 64 fired by Morikawa, the No. 4 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), gave him a 16-under 197 total.
   Viktor Hovland, a sophomore from Norway and No. 11 in the WAGR, was one of three players who finished tied for third at 4-under 209, nine shots behind his teammate Wolff. So not everybody found the Querencia layout as easy to master as Morikawa and Wolff did.
   Kristoffer Ventura, a senior from Norway, matched par in the final round to finish tied for 12th at 1-over 214 for the Cowboys. Austin Eckroat, a freshman from Edmond, Okla., had a  strong finish with a 3-under 69 in the final round to finish a shot behind Ventura in the group tied for 16th at 2-over 215.
   Rounding out the Oklahoma State lineup was Zach Bauchou, a junior from Forest, Va. who finished tied for 53rd at 10-over 223 after a final-round 76.
   It was three days of brilliance by Morikawa, who opened with a 5-under 67 and added a 4-under 67 before the finishing flourish with his remarkable 64.
   Joining Oklahoma State’s Hovland in the group tied for third at 4-under 209 were Vanderbilt’s Theo Humphrey, a senior from Greenwich, Conn. and the No. 9 player in the WAGR, and Arkansas’ Alvaro Ortiz, a senior from Mexico. Humphrey had a pair of 68s before cooling off in the final round with a 2-over 73. Ortiz finished up strong with a 3-under 68.
   Texas’ Doug Ghim, a senior from Arlington Heights, Ill., finished alone in sixth at 3-under 210 with steady rounds of 69, 71 and 70. The No. 3 player in the WAGR, Ghim was brilliant last summer in reaching the final of the U.S. Amateur at Riviera Country Club and joining Morikawa as a big part of a dominant 19-7 victory for the United States in the Walker Cup Match at Los Angeles Country Club.
   Florida State’s John Pak, a freshman from Scotch Plains, N.J., and Arizona State’s Mason Andersen, a freshman from Chandler, Ariz., shared seventh place, each landing at 2-under 211. Pak matched par with a 71 in the final round while Andersen finished up with a 1-under 70.

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