FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — After opening the NCAA Championships with an uncharacteristic Friday stretch that included three bogeys and a double bogey, Oklahoma State golfer Matthew Wolff regrouped and responded.
On the holes that followed in the first and seconds rounds at Blessings Golf Club, Wolff rediscovered his confidence and caught fire, totaling 10 birdies — including seven Saturday while shooting 6-under 66.
“I didn’t have my best stuff yesterday but just hung in there and figured something out as I played my back nine,” Wolff said. “I just minimized my mistakes and gave what the course gave me, pretty much. It was really nice to go out there and post a low score and help my team out, most importantly.”
As impressive as Wolff’s round was that tied a course record, perhaps more striking was the turnaround from a shaky start.
“I’m really proud of what he did,” coach Alan Bratton said. “He was 4-over par yesterday through the first nine holes, but since then he’s gone 9 under. It’s a good lesson for anyone out there playing golf to remember you can’t put too much importance on any one shot.”
Wolff, who is tied at 5 under with California’s Collin Morikawa for second place in the individual standings, helped the top-ranked Cowboys pull away atop the team leaderboard. OSU is 10 under through two rounds, 12 strokes ahead of second-place Stanford.
“This is why you play hard all year — so you can earn a top seed and get an early tee time,” Bratton said. “We were out here at 7 a.m. with little-to-no wind, which is a huge advantage out here. This is already a tough course and the wind makes it harder.
“We took advantage of the lack of wind on the front nine and got some momentum. Our goal is to try to get to know the course better, so we’ll get back to it tomorrow and just be ourselves.”
Austin Eckroat picked up where he left off the previous day, shooting 3-under 69 with six birdies. He is in first place at 6 under, one shot ahead of Wolff and Morikawa.
“I think yesterday’s round helped me today, for sure,” Eckroat said. “I did the same things I did in the first round … so it helped me shoot low.”
On a dominant day in front of a cluster of orange-clad fans, Viktor Hovland (70) and Zach Bauchou (71) joined Wolff and Eckroat under par, showing the team’s depth in addition to its rapid acclimation to the par-72, 7,550-yard course.
“Any golf course that you play, you get to know it better as you go,” Bratton said. “That helps you, but you still have to execute shots. It doesn’t matter how well you know the course, you have to execute.”