Sooner golfers lament KFT move from Jimmie Austin but hope for success at The Patriot

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By Murray Evans

NORMAN – Former University of Oklahoma golfers who wrapped up play Sunday in the Compliance Solutions Championship aren’t happy with the event’s move from their former collegiate home at Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club, but expressed hope for the Korn Ferry Tour event’s future on another elite in-state course.

The group of former Sooners – Max McGreevy, Logan McAllister, Patrick Welch and Blaine Hale Jr. all made the cut – enjoyed the opportunity to play at Jimmie Austin, even if none of them contended for the title, which was won by John Pak. The former Florida State star shot a 2-under-par 70 to finish at 23-under, three shots ahead of Jackson Suber, who closed with a 63. It was Pak’s first KFT win.

“It’s always a plus when you get to play so close to home and whatnot,” McGreevy said. “Being at the University of Oklahoma as well, it made it really special.” Added McAllister: “Having fans out to support, in a place where I’m comfortable at, stay in my own house – we don’t get to do that very often.”

This year’s tournament was the second in what had been a five-year agreement between Jimmie Austin, the KFT/PGA Tour and the title sponsor, Compliance Solutions. Compliance Solutions CEO Mark Lammert fired the company that operated last year’s tournament, Anera Sports, and replaced it with HNS Sports of Columbus, Ohio, a move that nullified some contracts.

Left to right, Compliance Solutions CEO Mark Lammert and 2024 champion John Pak.

The announcement of the move wasn’t planned for Tuesday – two days before the start of the tournament – but media reports of the KFT’s plans forced the Tour’s hand. The KFT issued a statement that read, “The Korn Ferry Tour is grateful for the hospitality from the University of Oklahoma and Jimmie Austin Golf Club’s staff and membership, as well as the support of the entire Norman community.”

The KFT plans to move the event to The Patriot Golf Club in Owasso and turn it into a KFT Finals event, meaning it would be played sometime between late August and early October as one of the final four tournaments of the KFT season. The Patriot is the home course of one of the tournament’s official charities, Folds of Honor.

Of the four former OU players, only McGreevy has played at The Patriot, competing there in the Oklahoma Golf Association State Amateur Championship in 2014. He said he didn’t remember much about The Patriot, except for a tee shot on the first hole being “off of a cliff” and it being “super scenic.” McGreevy – who shot a 2-under-par 70 on Sunday and finished at 8-under, tied for 47th – wishes the tournament wasn’t moving.

“It stinks that it’s going to move from (OU),” McGreevy said. “I know how much everybody here at Jimmie Austin loved having it here. Luckily, we get to at least keep it in Oklahoma, not too far away, so hopefully we’ll still have a good fan base up there and be able to have some people play really well up there, too.”

McGreevy should remain seventh in the KFT points standings and figures to have a good shot at making a return to the PGA Tour at season’s end.

McAllister finished with a 72 and also at 8-under for the tournament. He said he thought the KFT “kind of slimed” the announcement of the move.

“I didn’t even know about it (the tournament moving) until last week,” he said. “I wish it was still here, but to have something in Oklahoma is still special, even though it’s not going to be here. I think they had a five-year contract here originally, too. That was pretty disappointing to (the people) here. I know Jimmie was disappointed with that. At least, to have professional golf in Oklahoma is pretty special.”

Welch, who tied for 23rd at 12-under after posting a 68, said he was “a little bummed for the move, just because we have a lot of guys out on the Korn Ferry that played here and are familiar with it and we had good crowds coming out and watching us. For the other course, I’ve honestly never really heard too much about it, but I’m sure it will be a great event next year.”

Hale had the highest finish of any Sooner, shooting a 69 and tying for 11th at 14-under. He noted the numerous home-course advantages.

“You feel really comfortable,” he said. “You understand the pros and cons of different holes and where you’re supposed to miss it and where not. (On putts), you know what putt breaks a little bit more or breaks a little bit less. Probably the biggest thing is just feeling comfortable. I’ve played here so many times that I know exactly where to hit it off the tees, and that sort of thing.”

Of the move from Jimmie Austin to The Patriot, he said, “I’m sure it will be a great event. I’m sad it’s leaving this place, but I’m sure it will still be a great tournament.”

Zach Bauchou closed with a 67 and led the contingent of former Oklahoma State players, tying for 31st at 11-under. With a 68, Brendon Jelley was at 10-under, tied for 39th. Morgan Hoffmann posted a 73 and slid into a tie for 60th at 5-under.

Bauchou said he used an older driver on Sunday because of issues he’d had drawing with his driver earlier in the tournament: “I drove it a lot better today. I was in a lot more fairways and hit it close and actually made some birdies out here, which was nice.”

Former Norman High School standout Andre Metzger, who began the day only two shots out of second place, blew up with a 78 and dropped to 6-under, tying for 57th.

Pak, who’s from Scotch Plains, N.J., said his father first moved to Lawton – about an hour’s drive from Norman – after arriving in the U.S. Pak had two previous competitive experiences at Jimmie Austin, the most recent in 2018, when he played for Florida State in an NCAA regional tournament. The Seminoles missed qualifying for the NCAA Championships by one shot on the final hole of the tournament.

“That was a bit of a bummer, so it’s nice to have a little bit of redemption out here,” Pak said.

Pak began the round with a seven-shot lead, but two players, Suber and Davis Shore, each fired a 9-under 63 to zoom up the leaderboard. Suber, who started nine groups ahead of Pak, closed within a shot by birdieing No. 18 to move to 20-under, but Pak quickly responded with a birdie on No. 12 to go back ahead by two shots and parred out from there. Pak said he didn’t know Suber had closed the gap to one shot.

“I had no idea,” Pak said. “I don’t like to look at scoreboards. … When you’re at a shooting range, is it easier to hit a moving target or a still target? I’ve never shot a gun, but I would assume it’s a still target. So why would I try to set myself at a moving target when Jackson Suber was shooting it? That’s why I try not to look at it and just play my game.”

Suber finished second at 20-under, followed by Steven Fiskat 17-under. Shore finished in a four-way tie for fourth at 16-under.

The 63s, shot on a course measuring 7,487 yards, matched the lowest professional score ever posted at the course, but they weren’t the lowest overall competitive score ever recorded at Jimmie Austin. In 2012, while still in college at Oklahoma State, Talor Gooch – who now plays professionally on the LIV Tour – shot a 62 in the final round of the Oklahoma Golf Association Stroke Play Championship on a course that played that week as a par 71 at 7,089 yards.

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