By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
BRYAN, Texas - When Oklahoma State won a bid to host this year's NCAA Golf Championship at Karsten Creek Golf Club, Mike McGraw put the dates on his calendar in hopes of having a team capable of advancing there.
"I think when they got the bid, Baylor hadn't been to the national championship in seven or eight years," the fourth-year Baylor coach said.
Now, the Bears are headed back to the NCAA Championship for the third straight year after finishing third at the NCAA Bryan Regional with a 1-under-par 287 in Wednesday's final round and 7-under 857 in the 54-hole tournament at Traditions Golf Club.
"Yes, it is an expectation to make it to the national tournament," said McGraw, who is making his 19th appearance at the NCAA Championship with previous stints as an assistant and head coach at Oklahoma State and one year at Alabama. "But, it's also special when you're going to a place like Karsten Creek. There's lots of history up there, and I think spent 16 years of my life every day at that golf course. So, I'm really excited to be going up there."
Seventeen shots above the cut line after the first two days, Baylor didn't have to sweat it out in Wednesday's final round, even as the temperature gauge reached 95 degrees.
"You're not out there playing for the fifth spot, you're just playing to play a good round and build momentum," said senior Matthew Perrine, who birdied two of the last four holes to shoot 1-under 71 and move up to 14th at 1-under 216. "It's definitely a lot more comfortable than grinding over every putt, trying to save shots. We knew we had a chance to win if we played a really good round. That wasn't the case, but we definitely built a lot of momentum."
Second-ranked Texas A&M shot 9-under 279 for the third straight day and won the team title by nine strokes over 14th-ranked Clemson (18-under 846). Baylor was third at 7-under 857, with 26th-ranked UCLA (2-over 866) and No. 23 Kentucky (10-over 874) claiming the other two qualifying spots.
"This week sort of feels like the PGA Tour School," McGraw said. "You either make or break, you're one or the other. So, it really only has two results, two outcomes, and we got the good one. I don't think we played our best golf, but I'm OK with that. We held our composure together pretty well this week. Nothing special, but not anything bad. There was no choking going on, which I was very happy with. It was good to see them play well on a week when there were a lot of good teams here."
Sophomore Cooper Dossey, tied for the lead after a first-round score of 4-under 68, was in contention for medalist honors with four holes to play. With birdies on three of the first six holes on the back nine, Dossey pulled within one shot of the lead at the 15th.
But, after making just three bogeys combined in the first 51 holes, Dossey bogeyed each of the last three holes to finish seventh at 7-under 209, four shots behind A&M's Chandler Phillips.
Dossey, who returned last month after a 2 ½-month layoff for a wrist injury, said he relies on past experiences when he gets in those situations and "I try to make sure I'm doing everything right and not trying to force anything."
That's what he did on those last three holes, missing the greens at 16 and 18 and three-putting on the 17th.
"Looking back, I wish I hadn't (tried to force something)," he said. "But, it's good to be back in that position after not being there in a long time. . . . I love this golf course. I've always played well here, because it really fits my game. So, to come in and actually play well and exceed my expectations for the week means a lot."
McGraw called Dossey a "gamer. He's really gritty, he fights hard, he kind of loves the stage." "He's just got incredible energy, he's fun to be around. He was disappointed with his finish today, but he was perfectly fine with his teammates in our meeting. So, he's a great leader in all those kinds of ways. I think if everybody can draft off of that, we'll probably have a pretty good week next week. But, he played very well this week."
For the second straight day, Braden Bailey birdied Nos. 16 and 18 to shoot even-par 72 and tied for 19th with fellow junior Garrett May at 1-over 217. Freshman Ryan Grider recorded a solid round of 2-over 74 and tied for 40th at 7-over 223.
McGraw said he hadn't spoken one word to the players about Karsten Creek, "but we'll do a lot of talking about it the next couple days."
"I've got some pretty good local knowledge up there," he said. "So, I'm really excited about taking the team up there. It's been a thought in the back of my mind the entire year that if we could get to the national championship that would be a special week."
Seven of the eight Big 12 teams advanced to the NCAA Championship, with Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas winning four of the other five regionals. Also in the 30-team field at nationals are Texas Tech and Iowa State.
Baylor is one of 13 schools to advance both its men's and women's teams to the NCAA Championship, with the Baylor women tying for third at last week's Austin Regional and opening play in the national tournament that begins Friday at Karsten Creek. The men's tournament runs May 25-30 at the same site.
BRYAN, Texas -- For a school-record third consecutive season, the Baylor men's golf team is headed to the NCAA Championship. The Bears earned one of five bids awarded at the NCAA Bryan Regional by claiming third place in a 13-team field with a 54-hole total of 7-under-par 857.
The Bears shot 1-under 287 in Wednesday's final round. BU (-7) placed behind only No. 2-ranked tournament host Texas A&M (-27) and No. 14 Clemson (-18). No. 29 UCLA (+2) and No. 23 Kentucky (+10) also earned NCAA Championship berths, as the top-five seeds at the Regional all advanced.
Wednesday was the final round of the season for teams outside the top five, which included No. 34 Ole Miss (+13), No. 38 South Carolina (+18), Mississippi State (+21), UNC Wilmington (+22), Northern Colorado (+30), No. 50 Georgia (+33), Bradley (+37) and No. 47 San Francisco (+40).
Baylor was led by sophomore Cooper Dossey and senior Matthew Perrine, who posted matching rounds of 1-under 71. Dossey finished in seventh place in the 75-player field at 7-under-par 209, and he has now shot par or better in nine of 10 career NCAA Tournament rounds. Perrine was second on the team and finished tied for 14th place at 1-under 215.
Junior Braden Bailey posted a final round of even-par 72, and just like in Tuesday's second round, he birdied the 16th and 18th holes to get back to even-par. Junior Garrett May carded the Bears' final counting score on Wednesday with a 1-over 73. Bailey and May finished tied for 19th place at 1-over 217. Freshman Ryan Grider shot a final round of 2-over 74 and finished tied for 40th place at 7-over 223.
Baylor's third-place finish was the second-best NCAA Regional result in program history, trailing only the tie for first place at the 2017 NCAA Stanford Regional.
Baylor earned the eighth NCAA Championship berth in program history (1960, 1966, 1967, 2002, 2010, 2016, 2017, 2018).
Cooper Dossey's 209 tied the fourth-best 54-hole NCAA Regional score in program history and tied the best on a par-72 course. Baylor's only better Regional scores were at the 2017 Stanford Regional, recorded by Dossey (201), Matthew Perrine (207) and Hunter Shattuck (207).
Baylor's 54-hole total of 857 was the second-best total in 23 all-time NCAA Regional appearances. The only better mark was 823 on a par-70 course at the 2017 Stanford Regional.
Baylor's final round of 287 tied the 17th-best NCAA Tournament round in program history.
BU posted three of the 20 best NCAA Tournament rounds in school history at the Bryan Regional -- the 282 first round tied for eighth, the 287 final round tied for 17th and the 288 second round tied for 20th.
Baylor finished tied for second in par-4 scoring at 9-over 4.06, third in par-5 scoring at 15-under 4.75 and tied for third in par-3 scoring at 7-over 3.12.
Baylor's 54 birdies were third-most in the field, and the Bears' 168 pars tied for fifth most.
Garrett May tied for fifth in the 75-player field in par-3 scoring at 1-under 2.92.
Dossey and Perrine tied for fifth in par-5 scoring at 6-under 4.50.
Dossey tied for seventh in par-4 scoring at 1-under 3.97, while May tied for 12th at even-par 4.00.
Dossey tied for 10th in par-3 scoring at even-par 3.00, and his 13 birdies tied for eighth most.
May tied for 16th with 11 birdies, while Braden Bailey, Ryan Grider and Perrine tied for 19th with 10 birdies apiece.
Perrine led the team and tied for 13th with 36 pars across 54 holes.
Head coach Mike McGraw has now led teams to NCAA Championships in 19 of 21 years in Division I coaching.
McGraw has led teams to NCAA Championships in 10 of his 12 seasons as a DI men's golf head coach.
STAT OF THE DAY
9 -- sophomore Cooper Dossey has now played nine of 10 career NCAA Tournament rounds at par or better. He has a 70.20 stroke average across 10 NCAA Tournament rounds, which is 1.43 strokes better than his 71.63 stroke average in 52 career rounds during regular season tournaments. He currently holds the Baylor school record with a 71.40 career stroke average across all collegiate rounds.
"This week sort of feels like PGA Tour school. It really only has two results, two outcomes, and we got the good one," head coach Mike McGraw said. "We played well, and it wasn't even close as far as qualifying. I don't think we played our best golf, but I'm okay with that. We held our composure pretty well this week, shot even yesterday and 1-under today, which was nothing special, but not anything bad. There was no choking going on, which I was very happy with, and it was good to see them play well on a week when there are a lot of good teams here."
Baylor heads to the 2018 NCAA Championship, which runs May 25-30 at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla. The Bears will be making their eighth all-time NCAA Championship appearance, including a school-record three consecutive seasons. Live scoring is available at www.golfstat.com. Follow @BaylorMGolf on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for updates throughout the season.