ATLANTA — Oklahoma State may be the unquestioned top NCAA team in stroke play competition but since dominating the format at last year’s NCAA Championship, the Cowboys have had their struggles in match play.
Two weeks after losing twice and finishing out of the running at the first Big 12 Match Play Championship at Houston Oaks, the Cowboys dropped two matches and finished last in the prestigious East Lake Cup in Atlanta, televised by Golf Channel. Wednesday’s 3 and 2 loss to Duke came on the heels of a first-round loss by the same score to Alabama. Both came down to the final match and could have gone either way.
The Cowboys took the first match of the day, getting a 2-and-1 win over Alex Smalley from junior Viktor Hovland, who finished the event with a 2-0 record and also won the stroke play portion. The duo halved the first three holes before Hovland took the fourth and seventh. Smalley claimed the ninth to trim Hovland’s lead to one at the turn.
Hovland won the 10th before carding his first-ever ace at the par-3 11th to build a 3-up advantage. Smalley won the 12th before Hovland claimed the 15th and halved the next two holes to close out the match. Hovland at least is on a match play roll, having won the U.S. Amateur this summer at Pebble Beach.
Hayden Wood of Edmond claimed a 5-and-4 win over Evan Katz to secure point No. 2 for the Cowboys. The senior took three of the first four holes and never looked back. After making the turn with a 4-up lead, Wood won the 10th and 11th. Katz won the 13th before the two players halved the 14th to close out the match.
Sophomore Matthew Wolff fell to Adrien Pendaries, 4 and 3, while classmate Austin Eckroat of Edmond dropped his match against Chandler Eaton, 3 and 2.
The outcome came down to the final match between senior Zach Bauchou and Shrish Dwivedi. Dwivedi won the third, fifth and sixth for a 3-up lead before Bauchou stormed back with wins on the next four holes to move in front. Dwivedi squared the match at the 12th and moved back to a 2-up lead with wins at Nos. 13 and 14. Bauchou claimed the 15th to get back within one, but Dwivedi took the 18th on his way to a 2-up win.