Sports

Cowboys hogtie field at PING/Golfweek Invitational

With home-course advantage and the world’s top-rated amateur, the pieces were in place for the University of Washington men’s golf team to win the PING/Golfweek Invitational.

But Nick Taylor and the host Huskies witnessed a cowboy-style branding as Oklahoma State University tallied the top three individual scores and shot a 2-under 862 en route to a 22-stroke victory in the 54-hole tournament at Gold Mountain Golf Club in Bremerton.

OSU’s Peter Uihlein shot a 5-under 211 to take the individual championship, and teammates Morgan Hoffman and Trent Whitekiller shot 213 and 216, respectively, to give the Cowboys a podium sweep and sizzling victory in what is considered fall’s most prestigious college golf tournament.

“It’s a great course,” said Uihlein, who shot 69 and 71 in Sunday’s 36-hole first round before ending with a 71 in the final round Monday. “It was a lot of fun. The greens were tough and there were some pins in some tough spots.”

The Huskies finished a distant second at 20-over 884, led by Taylor’s 10th-place 221. Teammates Charlie Hughes and Darren Wallace tied for 19th at 223, Richard Lee shot a 73 in the final round to finish at 224 and Chris Williams ended tied for 43rd at 232.

Conditions were harsh both days, particularly during Monday’s final round when winds gusted around 35 miles per hour and only three golfers shot under par.

Taylor was among that trio, shooting a 3-under 69 to climb from 41st to 10th after a dismal second round (80) to help the Huskies hold off third-place Arizona State. OSU had the other two in Uihlein (71) and Hoffman (69).

North Carolina State University (893) and defending NCAA champion Texas A&M University (895) rounded out the Top 5, followed by the University of New Mexico (896), the University of Southern California (897), Texas Christian University and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (903), and 10th-place Louisiana State University (908).

“I think the course played incredibly difficult with the wind and firm greens,” said Scott Alexander, the director of golf at Gold Mountain who called the field the strongest to ever play the course. “That’s the kind of stuff you want when you host the best talent in the world.”

Gold Mountain, which hosted the NCAA West Regional in 2008 and will again in May 2010, is establishing itself as a world-class course. Alexander said there are plans to bid for either the 2012 or 2013 national finals. The nationally televised U.S. Junior Amateur Championships, comprised of the top players 17 years old and younger, are coming in 2011.

“You have to have the course, number one,” Alexander said, referring to what goes into hosting a golf tournament. “It is totally a blast once you have the course. Then it’s all about how you run the event.”

Nearly 100 volunteers chipped in to help with the PING/Golfweek Invitational, which Alexander said took between four and five months to plan. There was a refreshment stand on the course and non-golf activities to entertain the players and coaches, including Wiffle Ball and table tennis.

“It was incredibly fun,” Alexander said. “There is a lot of planning, but it’s a passion for everybody involved.”

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