By Ken MacLeod
Texas won its third consecutive Big 12 Golf Championship in style Wednesday, concluding an impressive three-day, 72-hole run on a world class venue at Southern Hills Country Club just 10 over par as a team, 24 shots ahead of second-place Texas Tech.
Longhorn Scottie Scheffler battled back from a 5-over start Wednesday to shoot a 3-over 73 and claim the individual title at even-par 280, edging teammate Gavin Hall by two shots. The Longhorns placed four players in the top 10 and the fifth was tied for 16th.
"Just a great team win on a great venue," said Longhorn coach John Fields. "Everybody played well. From Gavin Hall’s great first round (65), we had somebody shooting in the 60s every round. It will give us a lot of confidence heading into regionals and nationals."
Regional pairings will be announced Monday night on The Golf Channel.
Oklahoma State showed a glimmer of its potential in the final round with a 6-over 286, led by Jordan Niebrugge’s 1-under 69. It was the first sub-par round of the tournament for the Cowboys, and Niebrugge’s 70-69 finish helped him finish in a tie for fifth at 8-over.
The Cowboys wound up fifth as a team, one shot behind Iowa State and six ahead of Oklahoma, which shot a 295 in the final round. OU was led by the steady play of Michael Gellerman, who opened with 16 consecutive pars before consecutive bogeys left him with a final round 72 and in a tie for third at 7-over.
Both Oklahoma schools had their games exposed a bit by Southern Hills and will be practicing intently before regionals. The Cowboys will hope for a solid return to the lineup of 2014 Big 12 Player of the Year Wyndham Clark, but also need to avoid the one high-scoring round that has plagued the team in most of its tournaments this spring.
"It’s an unusual deal, but we’ve had one really bad round every tournament," said OSU coach Alan Bratton. "Here it was the first round (301). We’ve got a talented team and I started to see some good things today. But we’ve got to play better."
Freshman Kristoffer Ventura, who shot an opening round 82, improved every round and finished with a 71. Zachary Olsen was stead in a tie for 16th after a final round 74. Redshirt freshman Brendon Jelley of Tulsa concluded with a 72, his best of the tournament, and shot 72. Tanner Kesterson shot 76 to finish at 24 over.
Niebrugge, the 2013 U.S. Amateur Public Links and Western Amateur Champion, will need to play as he did in the final 36 holes and hope his good friend Clark brings his A game as well if the Cowboys are to be a threat in post season play.
"Looking forward, we just need to find a way to eliminate our mistakes," Niebrugge said. "We make a ton of birdies, but way too many bogeys.
"I know my game will come. Haven’t been swinging it the best this semester, but last few rounds played well and looking forward."
Niebrugge said watching this event would be great motivation for Clark.
"He’s definitely motivated and starting to make a lot of improvements," he said of his roommate. "I’m looking forward to seeing what he’s got."
Niebrugge, Clark and Olsen are the returning starters from the team that lost to Alabama in the finals of match play in 2014. If all three can play at a high level, the Cowboys are deep enough to make another run in 2015.
"There’s a lot of positives but we still have to play better than we have," Bratton said. "It would be great if Wyndham comes back playing well, but we need a couple of guys in contention for the individual title and we have that in us. We have a young team and they have the potential."
For the Sooners, Beau Titsworth shot a final round 72 to finish tied for 20th, Grant Hirschman tied for 24th after a 76, Charlie Saxon concluded a rugged week on his home course with a 75 and a tie for 32nd and Luke Kwon shot 80 to finish 43rd in the 45-man field.
Sixth-year OU head coach Ryan Hybl said it was a frustrating week for his squad.
"It was a very disappointing week for us as we had some nice momentum coming into this tournament and we just did about everything wrong on the golf course that we could do," Hybl said. "Michael continued his consistent good play but unfortunately didn’t get enough help. We are frustrated, but we will bounce back, and this is a wake-up call before NCAA postseason."
NCAA Regional play is May 14-16. The selections for the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship will be announced starting at 9 a.m. CT on Monday, May 5 live on the Golf Channel.
Complete results and course statistics available at www.golfstate.com
1. Texas 287-280-282-281=1130
2. Texas Tech 292-293-284-285=1154
3. TCU 292-298-287-290=1167
4. Iowa State 298-285-297-291=1171
5. Oklahoma State 301-293-292=886
6. Oklahoma 297-291-295-295=1178
7. Baylor 297-300-298-288=1183
8. Kansas 298-302-297-294=1191
9. Kansas State 305-299-309-296=1209
1. Scottie Scheffler (Texas) 72-67-68-73=280
2. Gavin Hall (Texas) 65-71-74-72=282
T3. Michael Gellerman (Oklahoma) 65-71-74-72=287
T3. Clement Sordet (Texas Tech) 71-70-73-73=287
T5. Kyle Jones (Baylor) 75-75-68-70=288
T3. Jordan Niebrugge (Oklahoma State) 76-73-70-69=288
T3. Kramer Hickock (Texas) 76-73-73-66=288