BC-GLF--NCAA Men,1st Ld-Writethru
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Oklahoma State sophomore Matt Wolff shot 40 on his opening nine holes of the NCAA Championship. He made it look easy the rest of the way.
Wolff closed with a 3-under 69 on Monday to win the NCAA individual title by five shots, extending the school record with his sixth victory of the year. More importantly, he led the defending champions Cowboys to the No. 1 seed going into match play.
“The individual championship is really nice, and obviously this is the biggest tournament I’ve won thus far in my career,” Wolff said. “But it’s all about the team this week. I want to do all I can to help my team and get OSU another one.”
The Cowboys won last year on their home course at Karsten Creek in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Wolff finished at 10-under 278 at Blessings Golf Club, the home course of the Arkansas Razorbacks. He had a two-shot lead going into the final round and never gave anyone much of a chance. Steven Fisk of Georgia Southern shot 71 to finish second.
Wolff is the first player from Oklahoma State to win the men’s NCAA individual title since Jonathan Moore in 2006.
“These are the best amateurs of the world,” Wolff said. “And to come out on top is really something special because most college events you get five or six really good teams, but this has all of the best players and all of the best teams. So it really does mean a lot. Obviously, we still have work to do with the team championship, but it’s nice to get this done.”
Oklahoma State also has U.S. Amateur champion Viktor Hovland, who was low amateur at the Masters this year. The Cowboys were solid from top to bottom, and now they start over Tuesday morning in match play.
The Cowboys play SMU in the quarterfinals after the Mustangs earned the eighth and final spot in a playoff. Mac Meissner missed a 4-foot par putt on the final hole that would have given the Mustangs the No. 8 seed. In a playoff involving all five players, SMU advanced with all pars to eliminate Clemson.
Also advancing to match play were Wake Forest, Texas, Oklahoma, Stanford and Texas A&M.
Oklahoma State will try to become the first team since Alabama (2013-14) to win back-to-back NCAA titles in men’s golf. This is the fourth time the Cowboys have been the No. 1 seed in the match play era. The only title they won was last year over Alabama.