By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
Matthew Perrine knows all too well exactly how close the Baylor men's golf team was at last year's NCAA Championship.
With the quarterfinal match against Oklahoma all-squared at 2-2, Perrine chipped in for birdie at No. 18 to force a playoff. But, the Sooners' Brad Dahlke rolled in a five-foot par putt on the first extra hole to knock off Perrine and the Bears and start OU's eventual run to the national championship.
"Every time I see videos of the post-round handshakes after that Oklahoma match, it definitely shakes me up a little bit," Perrine said. "It's one of the best moments I've had with some of the guys on the team. And, at the same time, it was one of those things that kind of digs at you. So, you want to get back there and kind of change the feeling."
With four returners off that team, Baylor gets a chance at redemption at this year's NCAA Championship, which begins with Friday's opening round at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.
"Last year was a lot of fun, because we weren't talked about at all, all year," said sophomore Cooper Dossey, fourth on the team last year with a 71.72-stroke average after earning All-America honors last season. "It stung a lot having to go home, because these guys are my best friends and I've never had so much fun on a golf course. Match play is so much fun. And to have that, with a chance to win a national championship, it's going to be so fun."
This will be a trip down memory lane for Baylor coach Mike McGraw, an Oklahoma native who coached 16 years at Oklahoma State and even had a house off the 13th tee box at Karsten Creek. He led OSU to five conference titles and the 2006 national championship and was an assistant for the 2000 national championship team as well.
"There are a lot of good feelings that I have about Stillwater and Karsten Creek," said McGraw, who has led Baylor to three consecutive NCAA Championship appearances for the first time in program history. I have a lot of great relationships, people I've known longer than just the time I was in Stillwater. But certainly those 16 years, I built a lot of great relationships.
"Hopefully, those people will be there for some high-fives and hugs. But, we're there to compete, we're there to try to win a championship. So, my job will be to make sure we get the guys in the frame of mind that allows their good golf to happen. I'll probably get a little emotional, but I'd be really emotional if we're hoisting a trophy."
McGraw, the author of one book already, could write another one on what he knows about the par-72, 7,460-yard layout at Karsten Creek.
"I don't know if it gives us an advantage, but I do think I know how to speak into these guys' heads the right thoughts that need to be said before we play and then during the practice round, pointing out certain things that will help them," McGraw said. "We had some good prep this week, as far as talking about Karsten Creek. And I think the women are showing you, it's not a monster. If you get reasonable conditions, you can handle the course, it's very getable."
After getting tips from McGraw in a meeting before they left, the Baylor women tied for eighth and narrowly missed qualifying for match play after coming in as the No. 20 seed.
"I basically told them what I've been telling our guys all week," McGraw said. "But, they did listen, they did take notes, they did pay attention. And if our guys can do the same thing, it should help a little bit, I would think."
It helps, too, that three of the players in the Bears' lineup have played Karsten Creek, even if it was during their junior golf days before they got to Baylor.
"It's less pressure on us having a coach who knows the golf course well and can help prepare us the right way," Dossey said. "In high school, I think was immature and kind of let the golf course intimidate me. I'm excited to go back and take it as a challenge."
Seeded ninth in the 30-team tournament and paired with Auburn and Illinois for Friday's first round, Baylor goes into it with the momentum of a strong third-place finish at the NCAA Bryan Regional. Dossey was seventh individually at 7-under-par 209, while Perrine, Garrett May and Braden Bailey also posted top-20 finishes.
"Obviously, I'm pretty thrilled with how we played at regionals," McGraw said. "That's such a stress-filled week. So, to get through there without any real stress - we were never on the cut line at all - was great. They accomplished what they were supposed to there, so now we're heading to Stillwater, a place I know and love. I'm excited about that."
Freshman Ryan Grider rounds out the Baylor lineup and is the only one who doesn't have NCAA Championship experience. Perrine and Bailey are making their third straight trip, while May and Dossey were part of last year's run.
"We're definitely motivated to get back this year, especially losing to Oklahoma in the first round and seeing them make a run and win the national championship," Bailey said. "That experience is huge. Making it to match play last year will definitely be a big help and hopefully we can repeat that this year."
WACO, Texas -- Baylor men's golf is headed to Stillwater, Okla., for the 2018 NCAA Division I Men's Golf Championship, which runs Friday through Wednesday at Karsten Creek Golf Club. The Bears qualified for the NCAA Championship for a school-record third consecutive season by placing third at the NCAA Bryan Regional.
Baylor will compete in a 30-team field at the Championship, which features three rounds of stroke play beginning Friday morning on the par-72, 7,460-yard course. Following Sunday's third round, the top 15 teams will advance to a fourth round of stroke play on Monday, and from there the top eight teams will continue to match play.
Quarterfinals and semifinals of match play are scheduled to be contested on Tuesday, and the national championship match is set for Wednesday afternoon. Golf Channel will provide live coverage from the NCAA Championship beginning Monday at 3 p.m. CT.
Baylor is the No. 9 seed at the Championship and will be in the same flight with the top 15 seeds. The No. 1 seed is tournament host and No. 1-ranked Oklahoma State, followed by No. 2-ranked Texas A&M, No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 4 Vanderbilt, No. 6 Alabama, No. 7 Florida, No. 9 Auburn, No. 10 Illinois, No. 11 Baylor, No. 13 Texas Tech, No. 14 Clemson, No. 15 Texas, No. 16 North Carolina, No. 35 BYU and No. 37 Kansas.
The second flight of teams features No. 17 Stanford, No. 18 Arkansas, No. 19 Arizona State, No. 20 UNLV, No. 21 North Florida, No. 25 Kentucky, No. 26 UCLA, No. 28 Duke, No. 29 Kent State, No. 30 Oregon, No. 33 Northwestern, No. 38 North Carolina State, No. 48 Iowa State, No. 56 Central Florida and No. 104 Augusta. There are also six individuals competing in the stroke play portion -- Kyle Mueller (Michigan), Braden Thornberry (Ole Miss), George Cunningham (Arizona), Joshua McCarthy (Pepperdine), Charles Corner (UTEP) and Pontus Nyholm (Campbell).
The top 15 seeds tee off in the afternoon on Friday and the morning on Saturday. No. 9 seed Baylor is paired with No. 7 seed Auburn and No. 8 seed Illinois for the first two rounds, and those groups will tee off beginning at 1:15 p.m. CT. Friday from the 10th tee and 7:55 a.m. Saturday from the first tee. Sunday's third round tee times will be set based on standings after the first two rounds.
Baylor's lineup for the NCAA Championship is led by junior Garrett May in the No. 1 spot for a seventh consecutive tournament. He's followed by junior Braden Bailey at No. 2, making his 29th consecutive start in a top-three spot of the BU lineup. Senior Matthew Perrine is playing at No. 3, followed by sophomore Cooper Dossey and freshman Ryan Grider. Colin Kober is the team's alternate at the Championship for a second consecutive season.
Dossey is in the No. 4 spot for a fifth consecutive tournament after missing the Bears' first four spring tournaments with a wrist injury. He led the Bears with a seventh place individual finish at the NCAA Bryan Regional. Grider is back in the No. 5 spot for a second consecutive tournament, and he's making his ninth appearance in the Baylor lineup this season, seven of which have been in the No. 5 spot.
BU has competed against 23 of its 29 NCAA Championship opponents during the 2017-18 season, and the Bears have a combined 25-30-1 head-to-head record against those teams -- Alabama (0-3), Arizona State (1-2), Arkansas (4-2), Auburn (0-2), BYU (2-0), Clemson (0-1), Duke (0-1-1), Illinois (1-0), Iowa State (1-1), Kansas (1-0), Kent State (2-1), Kentucky (1-0), North Carolina (1-0), Northwestern (1-0), Oklahoma (1-2), Oklahoma State (0-6), Stanford (2-0), Texas (2-2), Texas A&M (0-5), Texas Tech (2-0), UCLA (1-0), UNLV (2-1) and Vanderbilt (0-1). Baylor has not faced Augusta, Central Florida, Florida, North Carolina State, North Florida or Oregon.
Head coach Mike McGraw has led the Bears to NCAA Championship berths in three consecutive seasons. This year's appearance is the eighth in program history (1960, 1966, 1967, 2002, 2010, 2016, 2017, 2018), and the Bears' best finish came last season when they advanced to match play and tied for fifth place after a quarterfinal loss to eventual national champion Oklahoma.
Live scoring for the NCAA Championship is available at www.golfstat.com. Follow @BaylorMGolf on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for updates throughout the season.
NCAA Championship Seeds (Golfstat ranking)
1. Oklahoma State (No. 1)
2. Texas A&M (No. 2)
3. Oklahoma (No. 3)
4. Vanderbilt (No. 4)
5. Alabama (No. 6)
6. Florida (No. 7)
7. Auburn (No. 9)
8. Illinois (No. 10)
9. Baylor (No. 11)
10. Texas Tech (No. 13)
11. Clemson (No. 14)
12. Texas (No. 15)
13. North Carolina (No. 16)
14. BYU (No. 35)
15. Kansas (No. 37)
16. Stanford (No. 17)
17. Arkansas (No. 18)
18. Arizona State (No. 19)
19. UNLV (No. 20)
20. North Florida (No. 21)
21. Kentucky (No. 25)
22. UCLA (No. 26)
23. Duke (No. 28)
24. Kent State (No. 29)
25. Oregon (No. 30)
26. Northwestern (No. 33)
27. North Carolina State (No. 38)
28. Iowa State (No. 48)
29. Central Florida (No. 56)
30. Augusta (No. 104)