The Cowboys have a fight on their hands.
With three players yet to finish their first rounds because of a darkness stoppage, the Oklahoma State men’s golf team sat in fourth place at 3-under at the end of the first day. That result was thanks to standout performances from freshmen Matthew Wolff and Austin Eckroat.
The Cowboys finished the first day five strokes behind leader Northwestern, the team that set a course record shooting a team 8-under 280 to beat the 22-year-old record by two strokes. As the No. 1 seed, OSU was paired with No. 2 Texas A&M as well as Bedlam rival No. 3 Oklahoma and ended the day two strokes behind its in-state foes.
The only two Cowboys to finish their first rounds at the NCAA Men’s Golf Championships were Eckroat and lone senior Kristoffer Ventura. After leading his team for most of the first round, Eckroat ended his first round 1-under and T-24. Ventura sank a 15-foot putt on No. 9 as the field stopped play to head to the clubhouse at even-par and T-37.
Eckroat stepped up on the biggest stage.
“I’ve never been so nervous in my life,” Eckroat said. “Once I made that birdie on No. 14, I calmed down a lot.”
Eckroat followed his birdie on No. 14 with three in a row from No. 17 to No. 1, building momentum for the rest of his first round at a national championship.
“You don’t expect to get a birdie on No. 17, and that was like stealing a birdie,” Eckroat said. “I knew I had No. 18 and No. 1 coming up, and I knew I could take advantage of that.”
With the lowest score on the team and T-13 going into the final two holes of his first round, Wolff led the Cowboys with a 2-under thanks to a fou- hole stretch between No. 17 and No. 2. He came away with three birdies and a miraculous eagle on No. 1.
Junior Zach Bauchou was the lone Cowboy to struggle in his first round, shooting a 5-over through 16 holes. Thankfully for coach Alan Bratton and his OSU team, only the top four scores are used for the team total.
To round out the Cowboys’ five was sophomore Viktor Hovland, who came in as the highest-ranked golfer on the team at No. 4 in the country. Through 15 holes, Hovland is even-par with a par-3 and a par-5 left to play.
The remaining three Cowboys began their makeup round at 7 a.m. before starting their second at 8 a.m. They are once again paired with Oklahoma and Texas A&M.