Oklahoma State golfers make Ryder Cup participation the norm

Oklahoma State golfers make Ryder Cup participation the norm

Three former Cowboys are in Rome to play in the Ryder Cup, which starts early Friday.

Ben Hutchens

By Ben Hutchens

| Sep 28, 2023, 6:43pm CDT

Ben Hutchens

By Ben Hutchens

Sep 28, 2023, 6:43pm CDT

The last time the Oklahoma State Cowboys weren’t represented in the Ryder Cup was 2012, the year selfies were becoming a thing. 

The time before that was 2004, when the average tank of gas cost $2.10 a gallon. 

That’s to say former Cowboys have a successful history reaching the Ryder Cup, golf’s premier international event, contested every two years by an American and European team.

This year, three former Cowboys, Rickie Fowler, Viktor Hovland and Wyndham Clark have made the trip to Rome, where the first Ryder Cup matches start at 12:30 a.m. Friday Oklahoma time. The competition ends Sunday and uses a variety of pairing and single head-to-head matchups to determine a winner. 

Fowler and Clark represent the American team while Hovland, from Norway, is on the European squad. Fowler is making his fifth Ryder Cup appearance, Hovland his second and Clark his first. 

Fowler made his Ryder Cup debut in 2010 at age 21. This time, he is the second-oldest American on his team.

“We’re getting up there, not getting any younger,” Fowler said on Sept. 15 when he returned to Stillwater for his induction into the OSU Athletics Hall of Honor. “It just shows you the state of golf with how good it is, a lot of young guys coming out, very talented, playing well. Another one from here, Viktor, the year that he had is pretty impressive, so it’s going to be a good battle over there (in Rome).”

Only 12 players make each team. 

“I think that’s just a source of pride and a real credit to all of our players who have gone on to success on the Tour,” OSU golf coach Alan Bratton said.  

Bratton credited former Cowboy golf coaches Labron Harris and Mike Holder with establishing a winning culture. That has fostered pride in the program and helped OSU recruit worldwide talent. 

Sometimes, Bratton will mix in a practice day modeled after the Ryder Cup. Normally, it’s the Cowboy and Cowgirl teams competing against each other, but sometimes the Cowboys have international battles among the roster or pit the “Good old boys” from Texas and Oklahoma against players from different parts of the country. 


The Cowboys don’t view golf as an individual sport, and it’s paid off with 11 national championships, the most recent in 2018. 

“We’ve won a lot of championships, conference championships and national championships,” Bratton said. “So you get a real good appreciation of what it’s like to play for something bigger than yourself, whether that’s your team, your university or your country.”

Bratton will be at the OSU golf fundraiser on Friday, so he’ll be up early and tuned into the matches. He said it’s always more interesting when former Cowboys are involved, especially when they could play each other in match play. 

The only bummer is that they can’t wear orange on the course, he said.

“It would be great to see a match with Rickie and Wyndham partnered up on one side versus Viktor and his partner on the other, then they could maybe get an exemption and wear their orange,” Bratton said.

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Ben Hutchens and his twin brother Sam cover Oklahoma State for the Sellout Crowd. After a decade of living in the state, Ben finally feels justified in calling himself an Oklahoman. You can reach him at [email protected] and continue the dialogue @Ben_ Hutchens_ on social media.

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