While his teammates were enjoying a few extra days in Hawaii before their spring opener, Matthew Wolff was busy making his PGA Tour debut in the Arizona desert. The Oklahoma State sophomore not only made the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open but tied for 50th at TPC Scottsdale.
Six days later, Wolff was back to playing with – and dominating – college competition.
Wolff shot 7-under 65 Saturday to post a three-shot victory at the Amer Ari Invitational. Wolff, the top-ranked player in college golf via Golfstat's rankings, shot 15 under in the final 36 holes to finish at 18 under and claim his fourth individual title of the season.
The Haskins Award favorite, Wolff held off some talented challengers at Waikoloa's Kings Course. Oregon's Edwin Yi and Wolff's teammate Zach Bauchou tied for second at 15 under. USC's Justin Suh and Texas freshman Cole Hammer were two more shots back. Viktor Hovland, ranked third in the country, was the third OSU player in the top 10, finishing solo eighth.
The Cowboys, also ranked No. 1 nationally and the reigning NCAA champs, took the team title – their second straight at this event – by finishing at 47 under, 10 shots clear of runner-up Auburn. Coincidentally, they shot 47 under last year, too.
Oklahoma State has now won three of its four stroke-play events this season. The Cowboys were third at the fall-opening Carmel Cup, but they played that tournament without Hovland. Last season, Oklahoma State's Amer Ari win was also its third of the season. The Cowboys followed by winning seven of nine tournaments, including the NCAA Championship at Karsten Creek.
Texas was 12 shots back in third while USC and Oregon tied for fourth, 17 behind.
Asked in Phoenix whether this team, which features four players from last year's NCAA-title-winning squad, is better than last year's team, Wolff wouldn't bite.
"We are really good," Wolff said. "Last year we were really good and we played really good at the right times, but I think we're about equal. Hayden (Wood, ranked 19th by Golfstat) is playing a lot better, as well as me and Austin; we're all just maturing and getting better. I can see where people are coming from in saying this team might be better than last year's, but I think as of right now we're about equal."
As for again comparing Oklahoma State – and Wolff, for that matter – to the rest of college golf, it appears they are still a cut above.