NCAA Championship Saturday notebook: Oklahoma State’s big day, Sun Devil gets hot

·4 min read

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — During a practice round at the Big 12 Championship in April, Oklahoma State’s men were on a par 3 comparing clubs. Freshman Bo Jin pulled a shorter club.

“They were kind of teasing him or questioning him,” remembered head coach Alan Bratton, “and (Jin) said, ‘Hey, I decide how far this club goes.’”

The Beijing, China, native has carried that strong mentality to the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship, where he’s led himself and his Cowboys to the top of the individual and team leaderboards after two rounds at Grayhawk Golf Club. Oklahoma State holds a comfortable lead at 6 under.

“Obviously I’ve got to play smart, can’t always go for every single flag, there’s trouble around the greens but my irons are pretty well, I’m putting pretty well so you’ve just got to hit it somewhere near there and try to make the putt,” said Jin after his second-round 5-under 65 on Saturday. “To me playing a hard golf course, you’ve got to manage your game more. Keep making pars, par is a good score. If you get a birdie that’s a bonus but a bogey will never kill you on a hard golf course.”

On a challenging Raptor course that hasn’t given way to many birdies, Jin made seven of them, offset with just two bogeys. He currently sits at 8 under, three shots clear of Arizona State’s Ryggs Johnston and Clemson’s Turk Pettit, who are T-2 at 5 under after Saturday’s morning wave.

The Cowboys as a whole minimized mistakes in the second round, which Bratton said was the difference-maker in his team’s five-shot swing from the first round.

“We made several double bogeys yesterday, so I think we’re just getting more used to the golf course,” explained Bratton. “And obviously the conditions in the morning are a little easier. That’s why you play for a top seed like that and hopefully play well, so we get to go out early. Obviously, we’ll get to go out early again tomorrow. That’s big.”

“I mean, there’s a few hole locations, No. 1, No. 4, No. 6 today, this afternoon, those are going to be difficult,” he continued. “They were hard this morning.”

Sun Devil catches fire

Arizona State sophomore Ryggs Johnston shot the low round of the week thus far, dancing his way around Grayhawk on Saturday to the tune of 7-under 63 to move into a tie for second on the individual leaderboard. The Libby, Montana, native began his day on No. 10 and made three consecutive birdies, ultimately making the turn in 5-under 30 thanks to three later birdies and a bogey. After the turn he played Nos. 2-5 birdie, bogey, birdie birdie.

To put that score in perspective, the scoring average for the second-round morning wave was 72.27.

Pants in the desert?

With temperatures at Grayhawk flirting with 100 degrees, Wake Forest is the only team in the field wearing pants every day, and it’s for a good reason.

Tradition.

“Coach Haddock always felt that shorts were for junior golf,” said current head coach Jerry Haas referring to legendary Demon Deacons coach Jesse Haddock. “If you want to be a professional and that was your ambition to be a pro, then you should wear long pants and the story goes that some kid wanted to wear shorts and coach told him, ‘Go back to your club, and you ride in your cart and you drink your beer and you shoot your 75s. Curtis (Strange), Lanny (Wadkins), they wear long pants and shoot 67 on Sunday.’ So that was the end of that.”

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“I’m doing it for Coach Haddock, honoring his wishes,” said Haas. “He was a legendary coach and a great man and my coach when I played at Wake. I think it looks good. I think you look like a player. If you want to be a player, that’s just the way it is.”