WVU roundup: Golfer must prepare for Okla. wind

TULSA, Okla. — No one has ever confused WVU with Oklahoma. That is especially true when it comes to the weather.
What Oklahomans have come to expect is the unexpected. Everything from 35 mph winds to freezing rain to 90-degree temperatures can be seen all in one day.
The WVU golf team will find that out this week when they compete in the three day Big 12 Mens’ Golf Championship at the par-70, 7,151-yard Southern Hills Country Club, in Tulsa.
“It’s a different part of the country, so the grass types are gonna be different, and obviously, the wind,” Mountaineers coach Sean Covich said. “Typically, the winds goes really hard during Big 12 week, out there out West, in April. We just got to be ready for it, and embrace the conditions. I think we’ve played in enough bad weather that we should at least know what to expect and how to prepare for it, but, unfortunately, there’s no way we’ll be as prepared as the teams from Texas, and Kansas, and Oklahoma, just because they play in it every single week.”
According to Covich, the Mountaineers have done their best to prepare for conditions that may not be similar, but just as demanding.
“We kind of have a different problem, it’s cold here, but the wind doesn’t blow like it does out in Oklahoma and Texas,” Covich said. “So we just try to do our best, play in the worst conditions we can when we’re here, at home, try to get ready for it.”
For junior Max Sear, the mindset Covich has instilled in them in dealing with adverse conditions will be a key to what they want to accomplish.
“The great part about our coach is, he gets us practicing conditions like that all the time,” Sear said. “On Wednesday, we practiced, because it was nice out, then yesterday, we were playing, it was probably 40 degrees, and blowing 20. The only way to adapt to that is just having a good mindset and practicing.”
The first round of the Big 12 Tournament starts at 9 a.m. with No. 1 Oklahoma State and No. 2 Oklahoma teeing off.
The ninth-ranked Mountaineers will hit the course at 10:30 a.m. along with No. 10 Kansas in the final group of the day.
Each team will consist of five members. For WVU that is Sear, sophomore Etienne Papineau, senior Avery Schneider and freshmen Mark Goetz and Matthew Sharpstene.
Each team will play 36 holes Monday. Tuesday’s third-round pairings will be based on Monday’s scores, while Wednesday’s final-round pairings will be based on 54-hole totals with the leaders teeing off last.
While the weather will be a big factor for each team, the biggest element WVU has to deal with is the talent that makes up the Big 12. Five are ranked in the top 17 of Golfweek/Sagarin ratings. That includes led by No. 1 Oklahoma State, No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 10 Baylor, No. 13 Texas Tech and No. 18 Texas.
But Covich doesn’t want that to be a concern for his squad.
“The Big 12 Championship is a major championship in college golf, so it’s just opportunity to compete against the best,” Covich said. “But really, what’s crazy about this game is, we could be playing the number one team in the country, or we could be playing the 298th ranked team in the country. You still have to golf your ball. You still have to play your shot, you got to play your game, so yeah, it is special to tee it up against Oklahoma State, and then defend the National Champion Sooners, from Oklahoma, and everybody else just in the top 25, but you still got to play your game.”
While WVU comes into the championship as an underdog, Sear sees an opportunity for his team to show they have started to close the gap on the other squads.
We have improved a little bit this year,” Sear said. “So I think our expectations are going to increase a little bit, compete a little bit more. The last couple years have been pretty tough on us. I mean last year was pretty brutal conditions and it showed that we weren’t very deep. This year, I hope, just to string a couple of good rounds together and see where it takes us.”

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