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Kristoffer Ventura on Pokes Facing Match Play: ‘We’re Gonna Try to Kick Their Ass’



The worst-kept secret of Oklahoma State golf is that match play has not been kind to the Pokes. Since it was implemented in 2009, OSU has not won a national championship, even though it has had some of its best teams … probably ever.

It has lost every way possible, too. It has lost with future pros Rickie Fowler and Peter Uihlein. It has lost to Augusta (mercifully not in the match play event this year). And it has lost at home with an all-time team.

And athletic director Mike Holder was at the heart of implementing the entire thing. Again, the worst-kept secret about OSU golf.

It was in the mid-2000s when Mike Holder began having conversations with anyone who would listen about the idea of implementing match play into the NCAA Championship. The legendary Oklahoma State men’s golf coach had just become the school’s athletic director, and he was convinced that the switch would create a domino effect that could ultimately rise the tide of the entire sport.

There are many in the college golf community who don’t think much of Holder, whose aggressive, stern methods have rubbed them the wrong way. But you have to credit him for having a vision. [Golf Digest]

In the greatest (and cruelest) irony in OSU sports history, the Cowboys would probably have at least two if not three more NCAA trophies if this had not been put into play.

  • 2009: OSU wins stroke play by 13, loses in quarterfinals to Georgia
  • 2010: OSU wins stroke play by 4, loses in finals to Augusta
  • 2011: OSU finishes T3 in stroke play, loses in semifinals to Augusta
  • 2012: Missed NCAAs
  • 2013: OSU finishes T14 in stroke play, misses quarterfinals
  • 2014: OSU finishes 4th in stroke play, loses in finals to Alabama
  • 2015: OSU finishes T19 in stroke play, misses quarterfinals
  • 2016: OSU finishes T10 in stroke play, misses quarterfinals
  • 2017: OSU finishes 4th in stroke play, loses in quarterfinals to Oregon
  • 2018: OSU wins stroke play by 8, ???

There’s your three titles. But hey the rules are the rules, and it’s a net win for college golf even if it’s been a big loss for the Pokes.

“I think that’s what’s fun with about this tournament,” said Kristoffer Ventura. “Not only the stroke play, but now when you get into match play, anything can happen. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done so far in the stroke play.

“As long as we show up tomorrow and play really good. My focus, and I know my teammates’ focus, will be just to look in front of us tomorrow on the first tee, and we’re gonna try to kick their ass.”

This was before Ventura knew OSU was facing Texas A&M, the No. 2 overall seed coming into the tournament, in the quarterfinals. But it was clear that he and the rest of the Pokes didn’t care who they saw on the first tee on Tuesday, even though they’re playing at home and will have all kinds of pressure on Tuesday and Wednesday to win it all.

Later in the post-round press conference they found out who their opponent would be, and Bratton gave his assessment.

“We’ve played with them quite a few times,” said Bratton. “We’ve played with them, I believe, at the Floridian and at their home tournament. We’ve probably played with them somewhere else, too. Very familiar.

“Obviously I’m familiar with the university. I’m from College Station. That will be a good match-up. They’ve had a good year, and we’ll need to be on our game, but I promise you we’ll be ready.”

A&M only has one player in the top 50, while OSU has four. The Pokes should be and are favored. But as we’ve seen in recent years, it hasn’t always worked in their favor.

Here are the matchups for Tuesday’s quarterfinal against A&M.

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Follow Kyle Porter on Twitter @KylePorterCBS

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