The third major of the professional golf season is about to begin at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in Lancashire England. Former NCAA golfers have won the first two majors of the year and I like their odds to win a 3rd. The 2012 season on the PGA Tour has been dominated by former NCAA athletes, having won 26 of 30 official events to date.
The field at the Open Championship features 50 Rivals Cup eligible players. The ACC leads all conferences with 15 entries in the field and is currently ranked as the #1 most influential conference on the PGA Tour.
In the team competition, Georgia Tech and Oklahoma State are tied as the most represented NCAA programs with 4 entries each. The Cowboys are currently ranked #1; and the Yellow Jackets are ranked #2 in the Rivals Cup - how apropos…
Top NCAA team and conference entries in the Open Championship:
|T1||Georgia Tech||4||2||Big 12||8|
|T3||Arizona State||3||5||Big 10||4|
Perhaps no other NCAA golf program has enjoyed as much success on the PGA Tour in the last 18 months or so as Oklahoma State. Led by Hunter Mahan and Rickie Fowler, the Cowboys have 3 wins in 2012 and they’re deep, which helps in the Rivals Cup tremendously.
OSU has 7 former golf team members earning FedExCup points – the scoring system used for the Rivals Cup. While the three wins have accounted for 1,600 FEC points, they still have more than 3,000 points earned for non-wins, which speaks to their depth and consistency.
Oklahoma State FedExCup point totals on the 2012 PGA Tour:
|Mahan, Hunter||Oklahoma State||1654|
|Fowler, Rickie||Oklahoma State||1197|
|Van Pelt, Bo||Oklahoma State||964|
|Howell III, Charles||Oklahoma State||623|
|Bradley, Michael||Oklahoma State||141|
|Loar, Edward||Oklahoma State||43|
|Verplank, Scott||Oklahoma State||17|
Former Cowboys on the PGA Tour have been unequaled since the Rivals Cup started after the 2011 Masters. While there have been a few weeks when OSU was not ranked as the #1 team on the PGA Tour, by-and-large they have been the most influential NCAA program at the games highest level.
Don’t forget about the 3 or 4 non PGA Tour members who played collegiately at OSU like Peter Uihlein, Kevin Tway and Morgan Hoffmann who figure to add to the Cowboy legacy in the near future.
(By the way, if you’re an OSU fan and you don’t read the Pistols Firing Blog, you’re missing something special. It’s by far the best school/conference specific sports blog I’ve come across in the last two years).
OSU finished the 2011 Rivals Cup ranked #1 despite an unbelievable late season push by Wake Forest. What was amazing about it? Wake almost caught Oklahoma State despite having only two former golf team members earning FedExCup points in Webb Simpson and FedExCup winner Bill Haas.
Even though the 2012 PGA Tour season is more than half way in the books, the race to see who will win the Rivals Cup is too close to call. There are probably 3 or 4 teams that have a legitimate chance to catch the Cowboys. Having said that, if a particular team a little further down the top 25 rankings with substantial depth (like UCLA or Florida) gets hot, then maybe we could see another finish like we had in 2011.