By John Rohde Published: May 14, 2009
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/> Not every starting lineup was determined by an open qualifier with the top five getting to play that week, but that’s how this season began last September prior to the Fighting Illini Invitational at Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club.

Hoffmann failed to survive that qualifier, finishing ninth.

"He was just kind of discombobulated. He was all over the place,” OSU coach Mike McGraw said.

Not only did Hoffmann qualify the next week, he won the Ping/Golfweek Preview, the signature fall event held at the site of that season’s NCAA Championship.

"That was really important to me,” Hoffman said of the Preview. "I had a rough first week of school. I owed it to myself to do something good. I came out motivated and haven’t stopped since.

"I thought it was going to be a lot harder adapting (to college), but with the people around here, it’s just so easy to fall into something good. Everyone makes you feel so comfortable. It’s great what we have going on here.

"I’m so happy to be a part of it.”

And yet these guys beat each other’s brains out to qualify for the starting five.

"Hey, they know it’s all about the competition, and they embrace that,” McGraw said. "That’s what makes you get better.”

Here’s how loaded OSU is: Hoffmann is the team leader in stroke average (71.55), yet will play out of the No. 3 spot this week behind Fowler and Leon.

After missing out on the Big 12 Championships, Tway returns to lineup this week, bumping Whitekiller.

Also waiting to crack the lineup are sophomore Mark Johnson, who tied for seventh at last year’s Big 12 Championships, and freshman Sean Einhaus, a member of last year’s World Amateur team from Germany.

McGraw admittedly has a tough time filling out his lineup card, and he’s thankful for it.

"Basketball coaches are yanking people all the time,” McGraw said. "I wouldn’t want to be a basketball coach. That’s got to be hard to do.”

McGraw joined the program 12 years ago and has never had such deep feelings, referring to it as "true depth" when your roster goes 7-8 deep.

"I’m not saying this is the best team in the last 12 years,” McGraw said, "but I would say it’s the first team we’ve had where you went past the sixth or seventh man. There are some really good players here not playing.”

John Rohde: 475-3099. John Rohde can be heard Monday-Friday from 6-7 p.m. on The Sports Animal Network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.



NCAA MEN’S GOLF REGIONAL
→Where: Karsten Creek Golf Club (7,407 yards; par-72)

→When: Today through Saturday.

→Format: 54 holes stroke play; 18 holes each day.

→Field: 13 teams; 10 individuals. Top five teams and one individual advance to NCAA Championships at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.

→Top players (national ranking): 1. Morgan Hoffmann, OSU; 8. Rickie Fowler, OSU; 15. Trent Leon, OSU; 22. Andrew Putnam, Pepperdine; 23. Dustin Garza, Wichita State; 24. John Peterson, LSU; 36. Andrew Landry, Arkansas; 41. James Sacheck, TCU.

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