MELBOURNE, FLORIDA (AP) – Greg Robertson will lecture to his Oklahoma State squad about approaching a closing stretch of holes like a tour player this week when he returns home to Stillwater, Oklahoma. Caroline Masson, a Cowgirl alum and LPGA winner who has competed in the Solheim Cup, gave him the idea.
Masson, who lives on the Central Florida coast, spent part of Valentine’s Day watching her old squad participate at Duran Golf Club’s Columbia Classic. After going 8 over on No. 18, a lengthy par 4 that doglegs left over water, Oklahoma State finished third, four strokes behind champion Virginia Tech.
“We’ll speak about a lot of things when we get home,” Robertson said, “but it was a fantastic learning experience with the pin placement, the wind, and everything about the hole.” We most likely didn’t play that as well as we could have. And all it takes is a little bit of patience and discipline.”
Robertson would rather teach that lesson now than in three months, when Oklahoma State, the defending NCAA runner-up, will be attempting to repeat as champs. The team went unbeaten in the autumn and entered the Columbia Classic as the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings’ No. 2-ranked team.
Robertson hopes that by the time the playoffs arrive, his team has learned the hard lessons. He also hopes that the guys who are battling at their best have emerged. The biggest variable in the Cowgirls’ spring story is their evolving roster (the team already lost Maja Stark, last season’s highest scorer, to pro golf).
Leading scorer Caley McGinty said she will be transferring the day after Oklahoma State’s spring opener, the Rapsodo Match in the Desert, last month. McGinty, an Englishwoman who enrolled with Robertson in 2019 while he was at Kent State and transferred to Oklahoma State this fall, is now taking classes online and no longer lives in Stillwater.
“We wish her all the best in the future,” Robertson said.
The Curtis Cupper and world No. 16 amateur won twice in the fall and had a 68.6 scoring average, about a stroke lower than the rest of the team. Robertson, on the other hand, is happy to point out that everyone of his surviving players has won at least one college tournament.
“We’ve lost Caley, who was a fantastic player, but we still have a bunch that can compete,” he remarked.
Lianna Bailey, Hailey Jones, and Han-Hsuan Yu, all upperclassmen, are all possibilities to fill the available seat.
“Those three were on the outside looking in in the autumn,” Robertson said, “but Lianna is a two-time college winner, and Hailey won as an individual this year, so they’re good players.”
Maddison Hinson-Tolchard, a sophomore, recently won the Rapsodo event, while junior Isabella Fierro, a sophomore, ended a two-year college golf winless streak with a two-shot victory at the Columbia Classic. Fierro made her third appearance with the team and earned her first college title at the 2019 Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational. She hasn’t won since, but she finished in the top ten seven times last season, including two times as runner-up. She missed the first two starts of the spring season last year due to a wrist issue.
“She’s had top 5s and top 10s for the previous two years, so this has been a long time coming,” Robertson said.
Fierro gazed out at the bleak surroundings on the final day, thanked his lucky stars that the sun was shining, and buckled up. She attributed her success to a peaceful mental state, which she has been struggling with recently. You can’t modify what you’re doing or push harder to get into the winner’s circle, she reasoned.
It’s the same when it comes to filling in for a colleague who isn’t available.
“It was unfortunate for us,” Fierro said of Stark and McGinty’s departures, “but we have fantastic leaders on the squad.” “We have a lot of good perspective and a lot of good personalities on the team,” Fierro added. It isn’t just about one leader; it is about everyone, including those who don’t make the roster.”