Bratton will miss OSU crew at LIV Tulsa while concentrating on current Cowboys
By Ken MacLeod
While Oklahoma State is getting a ton of favorable publicity this week for having the top three players on LIV Golf as it begins its LIV Tulsa event Friday at Cedar Ridge Country Club, the current Cowboy team finds itself wandering in unfamiliar territory.
As coach Alan Bratton and his team get set to leave for Las Vegas Saturday morning for a regional at Bear’s Best Golf Club Monday through Wednesday, the Cowboys are not the subject of national championship speculation. They are the No. 4 seed in their regional and it would not be a tremendous surprise if they are not one of the five teams to advance from Las Vegas to the NCAA Championship.
On the other hand, this team may be ranked 21st in the most recent Bushnell/Golfweek Coaches Poll, and 18th in the Strackaline Team Collegiate Rankings, but the goals in Stillwater have not changed.
“We’re coming in in a different spot,” Bratton said. “No one has us as a favorite. But our goals haven’t changed. We can be right in the thick of things and everything is still on the table. No our goals haven’t changed one bit.”
OSU has won six consecutive regional titles and seven of eight under Bratton. The Cowboys have won 11 NCAA championships, the most recent in 2018 led by Matthew Wolff and Viktor Howland.
For the Cowboys to advance at regionals and contend at the NCAA Championship May 26-31 at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., they will need to exhibit a measure of consistency that has been lacking all season.
“We’re doing some good things, but the whole group needs more consistency,” Bratton said. “We’ve been putting it together for one round, but not for a tournament.”
The Cowboys will use the same lineup at regionals that finished fifth in the Big 12 Conference championship at Prairie Dunes last week. Jonas Baumgartner took second and has now finished first and second in his last two events. Rasmus Neergaard-Petersen finished 11th on cold and windy Prairie Dunes. Needing to get going are talented Leo Oyo and particularly Bo Jin, who was one of the nation’s top players two years ago and shot a second-round 80 at Prairie Dunes on his way to a tie for 34th.
Cowboy junior Hazen Newman grew up playing the Bear’s Best course and may be an x factor as the fifth man next week.
Bratton had hoped to attend LIV Tulsa and root on the five Cowboys in the field but scheduling conflicts will prevent that. He coached Eugenio Chacarra and Matthew Wolfe during their careers and Talor Gooch for two years and was an assistant for Peter Uihlein. Charles Howell III played for Mike Holder. Bratton said he is not surprised by the overwhelming success of the group on LIV, including seeing Gooch, Uihlein and Howell ranked 1-2-3.
“Talor is doing just what he was on the PGA Tour and that’s coming into his own,” Bratton said. “He has now won three times in less than two years on both tours. Ad hopefully that just opens the floodgates for him. Charles is one of the few guys that has been playing at a high level for 25 years and still has the same excitement, exuberance and enthusiasm for the game today as he did at 18. I’m sure playing this new tour has really invigorated him.”