The drama on the 18th at Southern Hills brings back memories

Fernandez, Scott_BI_14_2

The 2001 U.S. Open Golf Championship was staged at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla.

I worked the event as a media liaison on the 18th green. That difficult par-4 earned quite the reputation because of its incredibly challenging green.

Undulating and fast, the putting surface was the topic of much debate during the Open.

Mark Brooks, who was tied for the lead in the final round, reached #18 first but three-putted to fall out of a lead that he shared with Retief Goosen.

Several groups later, Goosen and then co-leader Stewart Cink approached 18. Cink hit his ball over the green and then three-putted for a double bogey.

A par for Goosen would clinch the title, but he missed a two-footer. The South African did, eventually, win a Monday playoff with Brooks.

But the drama from 18 was something to remember. Fast forward to Wednesday afternoon and the Big 12 Men’s Golf Championship at Southern Hills.

The Cyclones found themselves two strokes ahead of 20th-ranked Oklahoma State in the race for fourth place.

Amazingly, Cowboy Zachary Olsen converted a 40-footer on the treacherous 18th. Iowa State’s Nick Voke lipped out a seven-footer for birdie. The margin between the Cyclones and Cowboys was one.

In the final pairing, Okie State’s Jordan Niebrugge defied the odds again and dropped another 40-footer for birdie. Match – between ISU and OSU – tied.

Cyclone senior Scott Fernandez, who had birdied two of the prior three holes, had a 15-foot try for birdie on the 18th. The native of Spain calmly rolled in the critical putt and ISU had its second-best finish since the Big 12 was formed.

Iowa State – ranked 42nd nationally – bested Oklahoma State (20th), Oklahoma (10th) and Baylor (17th) in the 2015 meet. It was an eventful championship.

And, once again, it all came down to the action on the 18th green at Southern Hills.

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