Double eagle helps Cowan edge best friend Polhill in OGA Junior; Hong, Lathrop also win

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By Ken MacLeod
Action photos by Chad Hamilton

How familiar with each other were the opponents in the final match of the Oklahoma Golf Association Junior Championship Thursday at Lincoln Park?

Including four years of practices at Oklahoma Christian School, “thousands” of other rounds as friends, plus time spent doing all the things friends do, swimming, watching movies, playing poker, hanging out, it would be hard to find two opponents more familiar with each other’s games and personalities.

That doesn’t that either Ryder Cowan or Bryant Polhill were going to pull any punches in the championship match.

Indeed it was Polhill, who finished second to Cowan in the Class 3A state championship in 2022 and third to his first in the Class 4A in 2023, who landed the early blows. He birdied the first hole and the fifth to go two up.

But as Polhill has watched Cowan do many times, the state’s top-ranked junior came roaring back. He birdied holes six, seven and eight in succession to take a 1 up lead, then pulled off the shot of the tournament. On the par-5 13th hole, Cowan drove his tee shot left under trees. From 200 yards out, he hooded a 7-iron and hit it out 45 yards to the right of the green. It hooked around beautifully, rolled on to the green and disappeared into the hole for a double eagle, the first of Cowan’s life.

He followed that rare albatross by driving the green on the 335-yard par-4 14th hole, leading to another easy birdie and eventually a 3 and 2 victory, his third OGA Championship in eight days. On June 1 he won the OGA Stroke Play Championship at The Territory in Duncan, outlasting another good friend in Jordan Wilson of Edmond in three extra holes. Then he won the OGA Junior Stroke Play title on Tuesday in a one-hole playoff over Parker Sands of Edmond.

“I’ve played with Bryant since I was 10 years old and I love that guy to death,” Cowan said. “He’s my best friend no matter what. I’m happy for him. He played great this week. I told him on the first tee I was so glad we both made it to the finals in what is our last junior tournament and to be able to battle it out for the championship on the last day, there’s nothing better.”

Also winning titles Thursday were Juliana Hong of Norman, who defeated Natalie Blonien of Altus 2 and 1 in the girls championship Ben Lathrop of Oklahoma City won the boys 14-15 age division with a 3 and 2 victory over Chase Blaser of Edmond.

Hong, who finished second to Blonien in the stroke play by a shot after also finishing second in 2022, prevailed this time, thanks mainly to two excellent short approaches on holes 13 and 14 that led to consecutive birdies and put her two up in the match. Blonien came back with a birdie on the par-3 15th hole, but then suffered a double bogey after pulling her tee shot left on the par-5 16th. Hong, who will be a sophomore at Norman North in the fall, made a solid par on 17 to close out the match.

Cowan is heading to the University of Oklahoma in the fall while Polhill will take his talents to Kansas State. They will be conference opponents for at least one year before OU moves to the SEC.

“It’s been a really great week,” Cowan said. “I’m really happy with the way I’m playing. On the albatross, I hooked that as hard as I could. I closed my feet as much as I could, closed the face and swung in to out as hard as I could and hoped for the best. I was really just trying to get it up near the front of the green. I wasn’t expecting anything, I just picked up my bag and started walking.”

Cowan will get to celebrate his trifecta of victories Friday by having his wisdom teeth pulled. But after that it gets better with a heavy slate of summer amateur events including qualifiers for the U.S. Junior Amateur and the OGA State Amateur. as well as the Western Junior and the Southern Amateur.

Left to right, Ryder Cowan and Bryant Polhill.

70th OGA Junior Boys & 11th OGA Junior Girls Championship
Monday, June 05, 2023 – Thursday, June 08, 2023
Oklahoma City
Lincoln Park Golf Course (West), Lincoln Park – West


14-15 Boys
Chase Blaser, Edmond, def. Emerson Majma, Edmond 1 up
Ben Lathrop, Oklahoma City def. Owen Mitchel, Edmond

16-18 Boys
Ryder Cowan, Edmond def. C.J. Phillips, Edmond 4 and 3
Bryant Polhill, Edmond, def. Mack Moore, Norman 2 up


Left to right, Natalie Blonien and Juliana Hong.

Natalie Blonien, Altus def. Jaiden Gregston, Duncan 19 holes
Juliana Hong, Norman def. Abbie Justiz, Arcadia 3 and 1

Left to right, Ben Lathrop and Chase Blaser.


14-15 Boys
Lathrop def. Blaser 3 and 2

16-18 Boys
Cowan def, Polhill 3 and 2

Hong def. Blonien 2 and 1

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Ken MacLeod

Publisher Golf Oklahoma | Oklahoma's No. 1 Golf Source