TRINITY, Texas Oklahoma sophomore Anthony Kim won the individual title at the Big 12 Championships at Whispering Pines Golf Course today. The Sooners finished second to Oklahoma State in the team battle.
“I’m excited. It was a lot closer than the score showed,” Kim said. “It was a tough battle all day. I got down early but kept my mind on my game and persevered. It felt good to close the deal.
"I thought I played well and kept my head in the game. I had to change my game a little bit because I like to hit the driver and you couldn't do that on every hole on this course."
Kim and Oklahoma State’s Alex Noren battled head-to-head through 16 holes, never separated by more than three strokes. Noren bogeyed the par-5 17th, all but clinching victory Kim, who ended birdie-birdie to finish the tournament with his sixth consecutive round of par or better, a 68, to give him an 8-under 208 for the weekend.
Noren bogeyed again on 18, but retained the runner-up spot at 2 underone stroke ahead of his Cowboy teammate Zack Robinson.
“Anthony struggled some on the front nine,” OU head coach Jim Ragan said, “but turned it on over the back nine and pulled out a great victory.”
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No. 1-ranked Oklahoma State won the team title, counting a 1-under 287 on Sunday to finish with 4-over 868, ending Texas’ three-year reign. The Sooners finished 13 over (877), earning second place for the second consecutive year. Missouri placed third at 21 over (885). Texas (903, +39), tied for last after the first round, climbed to fourth place with its 1 under round.
OU’s second place matches its best Big 12 Conference finish (2001, 2004). Under Coach Ragan’s tenure, the Sooners now have three second-place and two third-place finishes in the Big 12 Tournament. Before then, OU’s previous best result in the Big 12 was fourth in 1998.
“This team has been playing hard and are only getting better,” Ragan said. “They are playing with more and more confidence. We obviously have some room for improvement and we’ll continue to work hard to close the gap.”
For Kim, who won the inaugural Texas A&M Intercollegiate on April 17, it was his second consecutive tournament victory and third of his collegiate career. After finishing runner-up in 2004, he becomes the eighth Sooner all-time to capture an individual conference title. The last was Hunter Haas in 1998.
Junior Justin Fraley, who started the day sharing the lead with Kim, struggled through his final round, counting a 78 for a three-round score of 218, to finish in a tie for fifth with Missouri’s Ben Scott.
“Justin played very well through two rounds,” Ragan said, “but had some misfortune today. He’s improving each week, as everyone has, and is capable of top-five performances each week.”
Fraley played even through 4, but double bogeyed the par-5 5th and then struck bogeys on the next three holes, putting him 5 over for the round before he even hit the back nine.
Sophomore Nick Sheedy shot his best round on the final daya 74 helped out by an eagle on the par-5 12th that cut his three-round total to an 11-over 227. The Burlington, Iowa, native gained four spots over the final 18, finishing in a four-way tie for 18th.
Freshman Phillip Bryan concluded his round two strokes back from Sheedy in a six-way tie for 25th. The Mustang, Okla., native also fired his best score, a 74, in the third round.
Junior Shawn LaFontaine was the fourth Sooner to count his lowest round on Sunday. The Canadian needed just 73 strokes to complete his round of 18, bookended by birdies. LaFontaine moved up 15 places during the final round to tie for 31st.
The Sooners have improved with each spring tournamentfinishing 18th, eighth, sixth, fourth and now secondand look to continue that trend into the postseason.
“We’re certainly peaking at the right time,” Kim said. “Everyone feels good about their play and we’re only getting better.”
The Sooners return to the links Saturday, May 14, when they host the 14th annual Perry Maxwell Invitational at the Dornick Hills Country Club in Ardmore, Okla.