By Ken MacLeod
Ryder Cowan of Edmond jumped out to a 3-under start through four holes in shooting a tournament best 3-under 68 to cruise to a five-shot victory in the AJGA’s Gateway First Bank Tulsa Junior presented by Bo Van Pelt Thursday at Cedar Ridge Country Club in Broken Arrow.
Cowan, a University of Oklahoma commit entering his junior season at Oklahoma Christian School, finished at 2-under 211 in the 54-hole event for his second AJGA victory. Second place went to Matthew Comegys of Van Alstyne, Texas, who closed with a 72 and shot 216. Parker Sands of Edmond shot 1-under 70 in the final round to jump into third place at 218.
Maelynn Kim of Katy, Texas, won the girls’ division at 1-over 214 after a final-round 69. Ryann Honea of San Angelo, Texas, was five shots back at 219, while Audrey Rischer of Columbia, Mo., took third at 220. The top Oklahoma finisher was Raychel Nelke of Pocola, who shot a final-round 71 to finish fourth at 223.
Cowan nestled an approach shot with 4 feet on the par-5 first hole to get his day off to a great start. After saving par from a bunker on the par-3 second, he made birdie putts of 10 and 15 feet on holes 3 and 4.
“I finally got the putter going, and the driver,” Cowan said. “It felt great to make some putts. This win means a lot to me on this course and against this field.
Cowan is very familiar with Cedar Ridge. His mother’s brother is a member and he said he has played with his uncle at least 30 times. Cedar Ridge Director of Golf David Bryan said the club regards Cowan as almost an adopted member and he had presented him with a Cedar Ridge belt which he has worn frequently, although he was sporting an OU belt as he closed out the tournament Thursday.
“Ryder is a great kid on his way to being a great player,” Bryan said. “He’s very popular around here.”
After the great start, Cowan bogeyed the par-5 fifth hole for the third time in the tournament, but he was steady thereafter. He added birdies on the par-4 seventh and the par-5 14th, and also made a number of par-saving putts from 4 to 10 feet on the back nine, keeping Comegys at arm’s length.
That was his final event before school, but Cowan is looking forward to playing in The Junior Players Championship, an AJGA event Sept 2-5 at TPC Sawgrass on The Players Course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
Other Oklahomans to finish in the top 10 included fellow OU commit Jake Hopper of Norman, who closed with a 69 to finish fifth at 221, a shot ahead of William Hennessee of Tulsa who was also under par Thursday with a round of 70. Ben Stoller of Owasso shot 70 and finished tied for sixth at 222, while Jeremy Tandoy of Broken Arrow also closed with a 70 to take ninth at 223.
Although he lends his name to the event, Van Pelt could not be there in person this week as he is playing in the Wyndham Championship, where he shot 2-under in the first round today.
Maggie Roller, the director of instruction at Cedar Ridge, is the tournament organizer and host, putting in numerous hours and working with the AJGA staff to make sure the competitors enjoy a first-class event.