By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
DALLAS, Texas - After top-three finishes in the last two tournaments, coach Mike McGraw knew the Baylor men's golf team was playing well, "but I thought we had more in the tank."
Man, was he right.
Lapping the field by a mind-boggling 32 strokes, the 14th-ranked Bears won their first Royal Oaks Intercollegiate team title with a score of 4-under-par 351 in Tuesday's closing round and a 54-hole total of 31-under 1034.
"I think it's just a glimpse of who you could really be," McGraw said. "I didn't expect yesterday, not in a million years. This is a hard golf course. . . . It's a golf course that will expose you. So, to play as well as we did yesterday was a pleasant surprise. But, I also felt like these guys had something really special in them. Now, we get to go into the offseason with a great memory and excitement and energy for the spring."
The fall portion of the schedule could not have ended on a better note.
In the unique six-player, five-count format, Baylor took a commanding 29-shot lead after shooting 339 and 344 in Monday's two rounds for a sizzling 36-hole total of 27-under 683. Just six shots separated the next six teams, with New Mexico in second at 2-over 712.
"Coach just said to build on it," said junior Matthew Perrine, who shared medalist honors with sophomore Braden Bailey at 10-under 203. "No reason to go out there and just limp your way in. We know this golf course and we're all playing well, so we might as well go on and keep the pedal to the metal and go for it."
At the turn, Baylor had built its lead to 40 strokes, with its five scoring golfers shooting 9-under on the front nine. But the Bears played the last nine holes in 5-over, with Houston closing the gap and finishing second at 1-over 1066.
"To me, if it's successful, why wouldn't keep doing what you're doing?" McGraw said of the team's approach going into Tuesday's final round. "Now, the golf course played a little tougher today. We didn't handle it as well, but we still did fine. Coming off a day like yesterday, they had to get their minds back that we're trying to win a golf tournament, we're not trying to coast."
Perrine shared the 36-hole lead with Pepperdine's Roy Cootes at 7-under 135, but said he had "no idea" where he stood on the leader board.
"I knew I was doing well since I was going off as the No. 1 guy," Perrine said. "I just went out there and tried to play my game the same way I played yesterday, because that worked out well. But coming in, I had no idea. I just wanted to get in with as low a score as I could."
While Cootes fell out of contention with a pair of bogeys on the back nine and finished tied for third with Baylor senior Hunter Shattuck at 7-under 206, medalist honors came down to Perrine and Bailey over the final few holes.
With birdies on four of the first 10 holes, Perrine got to 11-under at one point and had a three-shot lead on Bailey. But Bailey had three birdies on the back nine and had the day's second-lowest score at 4-under 67.
Trailing by one, Perrine birdied the par-5 512-yard 18th to card a 3-under 68 and finished in a first-place tie with Bailey. Walking off the 18th green, Perrine was greeted by McGraw, who "shook my hand and said congratulations, you tied Braden. That's when I found out.
Not until Coach told me that I tied Braden. He shook my hand and said congratulations, you just tied Braden. That's when I found out."
It was the first medalist honors for both players.
"Especially after the way the team played, winning by as many as we did, I feel like it's a fitting end to the week," said Bailey, who posted his eighth career top-10 and fourth top-five finish.
Perrine, who has recorded back-to-back top-five finishes, said "it's all good" when you tie a teammate. "It's going to go on the rankings the same, and it will be that much more special for us to remember it down the road."
That doesn't mean they won't settle up when they get back home, but "it won't be an eat-off, I promise you that. I'm a slow eater," Bailey said.
Freshman Cooper Dossey and sophomore Garrett May had matching rounds of 2-over 73 and tied for sixth and 13th, respectively, while junior Jackson Heazel closed with a 4-over 75 and tied for 36th at 5-over 218.
"Especially for some of the younger guys, it just shows that we can be a team that can compete for a national title," Perrine said. "And even this week, we have some guys that aren't necessarily thrilled with the way they played. So, while we played great and lapped the field, we know we have a little bit more in the tank than that."
This was Baylor's sixth tournament title in McGraw's 2 ½ seasons and the first since the 2016 Border Olympics last March in Laredo, Texas. The Bears will be off until the All-American, which will be held Feb. 17-19 in Humble, Texas.
"This was a special two days. It doesn't mean we're the best team in the country," McGraw said. "All it means is we have the potential to be a really good team. . . . Right now, we're going to enjoy this victory as well as we can, get back in class and get ready for offseason training."
DALLAS -- Baylor men's golf continued its stretch of great play in the final round and cruised to its first-ever Royal Oaks Intercollegiate team championship. The Bears (-31) bested second place Houston (+1) by an impressive 32-stroke margin, and Matthew Perrine and Braden Bailey shared the individual title at 10-under 203.
Baylor continued to improve its Royal Oaks Intercollegiate finish under third-year head coach Mike McGraw. The Bears' best previous finish in the nine-year old tournament was a second-place finish in 2014, McGraw's first season. The Bears earned their sixth tournament title in McGraw's three seasons, and this one was their most dominating, as five members of the Baylor lineup finished among the top 15 individuals.
Perrine and Bailey each claimed their career-first collegiate medalist honors, as neither had finished better than fourth in any previous collegiate tournament. Bailey shot a final round 4-under 67 and Perrine carded a 3-under 68 to finish tied at 10-under 203.
Hunter Shattuck tied for third place at 7-under 206 following Tuesday's final round of 1-under 70, and Cooper Dossey finished a career-best tied for sixth place at 4-under 209 after shooting 2-over 73 on Tuesday. Garrett May tied for 13th place at 1-over 214 after his final round 1-over 73, and Jackson Heazel tied for 36th place at 5-over 218. Three Bears competed as individuals, led by Nick Thornton and Austin Cotton in a tie for 28th place at 4-over 217. Thornton shot a final round 3-under 68, and Cotton shot 1-over 73 on Tuesday. Colin Kober tied for 58th place at 11-over 224.
Baylor (-31) recorded wins over Houston (+1), Michigan (+4), Kent State (+6), Iowa (+9), Pepperdine (+12), Minnesota (+14), New Mexico (+14), Charlotte (+18), UT Arlington (+29) and SMU (+43).
Perrine and Bailey were named co-champions of the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate after carding 10-under-par 203 scores. They were roommates on the trip.
Bailey and Perrine both won their first collegiate medalist honors at 10-under par 203.
Thornton (71, 78, 68) improved from tied for 54th to tied for 28th with a 68-stroke final round effort. He turned in a 4-over-par 217 result.
Baylor never trailed over the tournament's three rounds, en route to its first Royal Oaks Intercollegiate Championship.
Perrine led par-4 scoring at 5-under 3.85, followed by Shattuck in third at 4-under 3.88 and Bailey in fourth at 3-under 3.91.
Bailey, Perrine, and Dossey tied for fourth in par-5 scoring at 5-under 4.44.
Perrine recorded the second-highest birdie total in the field with 14.
Bailey tied for third in the field with 40 pars in the tournament.
STAT OF THE DAY
32 -- The Bears topped second place Houston by a 32-stroke margin to claim their first Royal Oaks Intercollegiate Championship.
TOP QUOTE I
"I've put myself in position to win quite a bit, starting this summer, and I guess this was my second time this fall that I've had a good chance," Bailey said. "It feels pretty good to get the job done. It's also a cool feeling tying with Matthew, just sharing the win with a teammate. Especially after the way the team played, winning by as many as we did, I feel like it's a fitting end to the week."
TOP QUOTE II
"Anytime you tie a guy on your team, it's all good," Perrine said. "It's going to go on the rankings the same, and it will be that much more special for us to remember it down the road. We roomed together this week, so I think that's even more special."
TOP QUOTE III
"I think in order for (a national championship) to ever happen, you have to actually see the idea, the possibility," head coach Mike McGraw said. "We have talented kids who must believe in themselves to even be in that discussion. They are starting to believe in themselves. This was a special two days. It doesn't mean we're the best team in the country. All it means is we have the potential to be a really good team. If they'll continue to work hard over the winter and believe, yeah you could say we might be one of the teams that would have a chance to be called that. But right now, we're going to enjoy this victory as well as we can, get back in class and get ready for some offseason training."
Royal Oaks was the Bears' final tournament of the fall season. They return to action Feb. 17 at the All-American, which is played at Golf Club of Houston in Humble, Texas. Follow @BaylorMGolf on Twitter for updates throughout the season.