Final between Alabama, OK State will be epic duel

By Ryan LavnerMay 28, 2014, 2:50 am

HUTCHINSON, Kan. – Mere moments after Oklahoma State reserved its spot in the final match of the NCAA Championship, Alabama head coach Jay Seawell gathered his team in the clubhouse here at Prairie Dunes and offered a reminder:

“This event is about the players,” he said, “and players play.”

On Wednesday, on live television, top-ranked Alabama will face No. 2 Oklahoma State for the NCAA Championship, and all signs point to an epic duel:

• It is only the second time in the past six years of match play that the Nos. 1 and 2 teams will go head-to-head on the biggest stage in college golf.

• Oklahoma State is aiming for its 11th national title. Alabama, meanwhile, is vying to become just the second team in the past three decades to win back-to-back NCAAs.

• All 10 players are ranked inside the top 110 nationally.

But late Tuesday, Seawell felt compelled to issue a reminder, for one very obvious reason. There is an unavoidable subplot to this NCAA final, and it centers around the Tide’s 54-year-old assistant coach, a man who won’t hit a shot or – in all likelihood – play a major factor in the outcome.   

Will this NCAA final be emotional? Intense? Awkward?

Men's NCAA Division I national championship scoring

College Central: NCAA golf news, stats and rankings

“I haven’t given that a thought this week, honestly,” Mike McGraw said. “It was simply about how can I get Alabama to play as well as it can and get the chance that we’re looking for?”

The only thing standing in the Crimson Tide’s way: the five-man Oklahoma State team that he recruited.

McGraw arrived in Stillwater in 1997 and became the men’s head coach in 2006. In his first year at the helm, the Cowboys won the national title. They fielded one of the best teams in the country over the next several years, including an NCAA runner-up appearance in 2010, but after two sub-par seasons he was relieved of his duties last June.

The decision stunned just about everyone associated with college golf, but Alabama made its pitch almost immediately. The move has proved beneficial for both parties. In McGraw the Tide got the best assistant coach in the country, a man with a wealth of knowledge, an insatiable desire to improve and two national titles. In the Tide McGraw rediscovered his love and passion for coaching college golf.

Yet ever since McGraw changed his greeting from “Go Pokes” to “Roll Tide,” there’s been a feeling of inevitability about this NCAA finals matchup.

The players and coaches confirmed as much Tuesday.

“We knew this was happening,” Seawell said.

“It’s too perfect of a situation,” Cowboys senior Talor Gooch said.

“There was no doubt,” Alabama’s Cory Whitsett said.

“It was fate,” OSU’s Wyndham Clark said.

There remains no animosity between McGraw and his former players, and why should there be? They didn’t fire him – in fact, many cried when they received the news that he had been let go.

After he signed on with Alabama, McGraw asked OSU coach Alan Bratton if he could still keep in touch with his guys. So, yes, even now McGraw will text them after a big win or strong performance. The two teams were grouped together during their season-opening tournament, one round in Las Vegas and all three rounds of stroke-play qualifying here.

“I really, really do pull for those guys every day,” said McGraw, which is why there is the potential for awkwardness Wednesday.

“As much as he might not say this now, he still bleeds orange and he still loves Oklahoma State,” Clark said. “He grew up loving the Pokes and coaching for so long and putting so much into that school.

“It’s gotta be hard for him, because I bet you he wants his team to win but he also wants us to win because he recruited all of us. He’s been like a father figure to us.”

There is no shortage of motivation for Alabama, of course, but Whitsett, one of the team’s three seniors, acknowledged that there’s even a “little bit more riding on it for us.”

“We don’t even have to talk about it,” he said. “It’s understood. It’s set up for a story of redemption.”

For McGraw, not these players. They have their own glory to chase, their own memories to make.

It’s like Seawell said: When they arrive on the first tee, it’s only about the players – head-to-head, for a national title.

Come Wednesday, they won’t need another reminder.

Getty Images

Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 22, 2018, 8:30 am

Tiger Woods begins the final round of the 147th Open Championship four shots off the lead. He's out at 9:25 a.m. ET on Sunday and we're tracking him.

Getty Images

How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 22, 2018, 8:30 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM ( Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (

Getty Images

Schauffele just fine being the underdog

By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

“All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

Getty Images

Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Jordan Spieth: 7/4

Xander Schauffele: 5/1

Kevin Kisner: 11/2

Tiger Woods: 14/1

Francesco Molinari: 14/1

Rory McIlroy: 14/1

Kevin Chappell: 20/1

Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

Alex Noren: 25/1

Zach Johnson: 30/1

Justin Rose: 30/1

Matt Kuchar: 40/1

Webb Simpson: 50/1

Adam Scott: 80/1

Tony Finau: 80/1

Charley Hoffman: 100/1

Austin Cook: 100/1