Combining booming accurate drives and a hot week with the putter, redshirt sophomore Brendon Jelley shot 9-under par to win his first collegiate event and lead Oklahoma State to victory in the John Hayt Collegiate Invitational at Sawgrass Country Club.
"I drove the ball really well and putted the best I have in a long time," said the former Jenks standout and two-time defending Oklahoma State Amateur champion. "I made a lot of putts I don’t normally make and my short game was really clicking."
Led by Jelley, OSU cruised to a nine-shot victory, winning the event for the second time in three years with a 6-under total of 858. The deep Cowboys entered the final day with a four-stroke lead over the field before firing an 11-under 277 to finish nine shots clear of North Florida. The win was OSU’s second of the year after opening its fall slate with a victory at The Carmel Cup.
Jelley ignored a 2-over start in his first four holes, made 17 birdies to lead the field and won wire-to-wire. OSU coach Alan Bratton, who has 10 talented players vying for tournament spots, said the internal competition over the past year has benefited Jelley immensely.
"People think you have to learn how to win by being close a few times, but Brendon went wire-to-wire and won the first time he was really in contention," Bratton said. He pointed to Jelley’s two state amateur triumphs, the disappointment of losing by one shot in qualifying to teammate Nick Heinen for a chance to play at Pebble Beach last fall and to Jelley’s coming through in qualifying, including a 61 at Stillwater Country Club, to cement his place in the lineup going to a tournament in Hawaii to start the spring semester.
Jelley will be in the lineup when the Cowboys compete in the Southern Highlands Masters in Las Vegas next week, as will Jordan Niebrugge, who closed with a 66 to finish fifth. Freshman Zach Bauchou also finished in the top 10 ,tying for eighth place at 218 after finishing with a 71.
The Cowboys have three other players who have started numerous events including Wyndham Clark, Zachary Olsen and Kristoffer Ventura, not to mention Heinen, Stratton Nolen, Sam Stevens and Hayden Wood, all of whom have had success in various tournaments.
"We have 10 guys who could play in different combinations," Bratton said. "Brendon, when he’s had his back against the wall at home, stepped up and played well, and that got him ready to win. He’s embraced that competition and it’s helped him. "
"Everyone is playing so well right now, so we’re just going with the hot hand each week," Jelley said. "I think if you can finish first on this team in a qualifier or a tournament, you’ve got a good chance of winning. As a team, we feel we should have a good chance in all our events and we’re really looking forward to the next two tournaments."
Jelley got off to a quick start in his final round 69 with a birdie at the first before moving back to level par for the day with a bogey at the third. He would move back into red figures for good with a birdie at the sixth and turned at 2-under 34 after carding a birdie at the ninth. Jelley got to 3-under par for the day with a birdie at the 11th and countered a bogey at the 12th with a birdie at the 13th. He closed out his round with five consecutive pars to sew up the victory.
Clark moved up three spots and finished alone in 11th place at 219 after signing for a 71 as well. Heinen posted his second consecutive 71 to finish at 220 and tied for 12th place. Heinen was joined at 220 by Olsen, who also carded a 71 on Sunday.
Like Bauchou, Ventura competed as an individual. The sophomore tied for 30th place at 224 after signing for a 72 during his final round.
1. Oklahoma State 300-281-277=858
2. North Florida 293-292-282=867
3. Jacksonville 299-294-288=881
4. Tennessee 305-288-290=883
5. East Carolina 310-289-290=889
6. UAB 307-289-294=890
7. Louisville 301-299-291=891
8. UCLA 303-296-295=894
T9. Liberty 305-302-290=897
T9. North Texas 302-297-298=897
11. Army 315-293-298=897
12. Tulsa 315-300-293=908
13. Furman 313-301-301=915
14. Coastal Carolina 303-311-304=918
15. UCF 321-312-294=927
1. Brendon Jelley, Oklahoma State 70-68-69=207 (-9)
2. Phillip Knowles, North Florida 70-71-70=211 (-5)
3. Raul Pereda, Jacksonville 71-74-68=213 (-3)
4. Andrew Alligood, North Florida 77-69-68=214 (-2)
5. Jordan Niebrugge, Oklahoma State 77-72-66=215 (-1)