Sooners finish strong, storm back for regional title

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Final results:

NORMAN – For the 11th straight season, the Oklahoma men’s golf team will play for the national championship. The Sooners won the NCAA Norman Regional Wednesday, erasing a six-shot deficit to beat the field by 10 strokes.

With the win, Oklahoma tied the program record for overall season wins with seven and collected the school’s sixth NCAA Regional championship. The Sooners also advance to the NCAA Championship, slated for May 27-June 1, at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.

“We played better golf today, no doubt about it,” head coach Ryan Hybl said. “Not only did we get off to a nice start, but we finished well. We had all five guys under par and as a golf team, I just don’t think you can complain when that happens. Very special day for us to come out here and clinch a spot at Grayhawk, but to win on our home turf against this field is a big deal.”

The Sooners (838, -26) entered Wednesday’s final round at Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club six shots back of 36-hole leader Auburn. But Hybl’s team bounced back early in the final round, using a trio of birdies, paired with three Auburn bogeys, on the first three holes to even things up. Then, Logan McAllister birdied No. 5 to give OU a lead they wouldn’t surrender. In front of a rowdy Sooner crowd that packed Jimmie Austin all week long, the Sooners tallied a field-high 17 birdies in the final round to cruise to a 10-shot victory when all was said and done. Oklahoma’s 54-hole score of 838 (-26) shattered the Jimmie Austin postseason record, set by the Sooners in 2018 by posting an 850 to win in 2018.

“We talked as a team last night about how we weren’t thriving and we were just surviving,” Hybl added. “That’s something that we’re always trying to talk about is that we want to thrive when we play. So today we wanted to let these horses get up and run. We made the turn and saw the leaderboards and all the fan support, which was out of this world all week long, and felt really good about ourselves.”

The entire Oklahoma lineup was in the red on Wednesday, led by Logan McAllister’s 67 (-5). McAllister (4, -8) rose into the top five in the final round to share fourth, posting the best NCAA regional finish of his career. The senior sunk four birdies on the front nine to push the Sooners in front of the field and then played the back nine 1-under par. Powered by a field-high 18 birdies on the week, McAllister’s 208 (-8) tied former teammate Quade Cummins for the lowest 54-hole score at Jimmie Austin in school history.

Patrick Welch (T5, -6) grabbed a share of fifth, along with teammate Drew Goodman. The senior signed for a 69 (-3) Wednesday to match his opening-round score and be the only Sooner with two rounds in the 60s on the week. The top-five placement marks his sixth top-20 finish of the spring.

Goodman (T5, -6) rattled off a string of three birdies on the front and then a final birdie on No. 18 to fire a 70 (-2) in the final round and move up one spot into fifth. The fifth-place finish is the second-best of his career as the freshman now owns a pair of career top-fives.

Chris Gotterup (T9, -5) entered the week as the nation’s top golfer and lived up to the billing, posting a 70-71-70 to get into the clubhouse at 5-under in a tie for ninth. The redshirt senior has posted nine tournaments with top-10 finishes, the most on the Oklahoma roster.

On Wednesday, Stephen Campbell Jr. (T23, +1) signed for his best round of the week, closing his regional with a 71 (-1). His 11 birdies on the week made Oklahoma the only team in the field to have its entire lineup sink double-digit birdies for the tournament.

The 2022 squad’s win is the sixth regional championship in program history, joining the 2018, 2015, 2001, 1995 and 1989 teams. Wednesday’s win tied the 1989 national championship team for a school-record seventh win of the season – a national championship at Grayhawk would deliver the eighth and tiebreaking win.

Playing on its home course, the top-seeded Sooners led the field on par-4s and par-5s, attacking the golf course in places they knew they could. The Sooners were the only team in the field under-par on par-4 holes and fired a 30-under mark on par-5s over the 54 holes. The team’s 68 combined birdies were 14 more than runner-up Auburn and the Crimson and Cream tacked on three eagles to distance itself from the field.

Mississippi’s Jackson Surber won medalist honors, tying the Jimmie Austin postseason 54-hole record with a 205 (-11). South Carolina’s Evans Lewis (T5, -6) was the low individual on a non-qualifying team, punching his ticket to Grayhawk. Joining the Sooners in the team race in Arizona out of the Norman Regional will be No. 18 Auburn. No. 25 Ole Miss, No. 7 Texas and Utah. In total, 18 of the nation’s top 25 teams finished in advancing spots in their regionals including nine of the nation’s top 10.

Oklahoma now turns its attention to Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., where it’ll compete for the program’s third national championship. The Sooners’ streak of 11 straight NCAA Championship appearances is the third-longest in the country, and OU is the only school in the nation to appear in the last five NCAA Match Play quarterfinals.

The championship, held May 27-June 1, will be contested over 72 holes of stroke play, with the field being cut from 30 to 15 after 54 holes. Following 72 holes, the field will then be narrowed down to eight teams, who will square off in a quarterfinal, semifinal and final match to determine a national champion. The Sooners finished as the national runner-up in 2021 at Grayhawk.


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Ken MacLeod

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