The Edmond Sun

Sports

June 24, 2013

Kropp pulls away from field for first professional win

NORMAN — Perhaps Edmond’s Will Kropp was made for this pro golf thing. It sure looked like it over the last four days at Belmar Golf Club in Norman, where Kropp didn’t simply finish off his first professional victory — and his first victory of any kind since high school — but finished it off in style.

Entering the final round of the Adams Golf Pro Tour Series’ OK Kids Korral Championship on the 6,519-yard par 70 layout with a one-stroke lead, Kropp remained under par a fourth straight day and won by four strokes.

With rounds of 69-65-65-69, his 72-hole total of 12-under par 268 was four strokes better than the 272 finishes of Cody Gribble and Jonathan Randolph.

The $14,000 first prize may not change Kropp’s life, but it should help keep him solvent as he angles toward tour qualifying school in November.

“It feels pretty good,” said Kropp, who graduated from Oklahoma in May. “It’s been a while since I won, so it really feels pretty good.”

The one stroke lead he began Saturday with was over Jordan Russell, a class of 2012 Texas A&M product.

On just the second hole, a drivable par 4, Kropp found a hazard, tried to play his ball out of it and failed before taking a penalty stroke and a drop. He got away with a fortunate bogey 5, yielding the lead in the process.

Everything changed for good on No. 3, a 562-yard par 5. Kropp came back with a birdie, Russell made the first bogey of what became a very forgettable closing 77, and the very recent former Sooner was in command the rest of the way.

Not that Kropp knew that, exactly.

“I didn’t really know where I was,” he said. “I knew it was playing pretty tough and I was around even most of the day, so I knew I had to be up there … I didn’t play as well as I had. I hit some bad shots. I’m just proud of myself for hanging in there.”

Another example of that was at No. 12, a par 5 reachable in two good shots. Instead, Kropp found trouble and had to take an unplayable lie, leading to a bogey 6 when he may have been thinking birdie 4 on the tee.

It hardly derailed him.

Kropp followed by playing the last six holes in 1-under par, giving him his 69 finish.

Earlier in the week, Kropp said he was enjoying being a golfing free agent. Saturday, he explained that his regiment since finishing up at OU had been to simply play a ton of golf on his home course, up to 36 holes a day at Oak Tree National, in Edmond.

It’s working.

He narrowly missed Monday qualifying for the Web.com Tour’s Wichita Open on June 10. Two days later he teed it up at the Adams Tour’s Buffalo Run Prairie Moon Casinos Classic, where he made the cut on the number before placing 18th and earning $1,680 with a 67-69 finish. Now he’s followed that up with a victory in just his second professional event.

“I’ve been so focused on just trying to get a little bit better every day, I haven’t really thought about winning,” Kropp said. “I just know that I’ve been feeling a lot more comfortable the last month or so on the golf course.”

Tour life appears to agree with him.

“I haven’t stayed in a hotel yet as a pro, so I don’t know,” he said. “But the last two weeks have been really fun, so if it’s anything like the last two weeks, I think I’ll enjoy it.”

He enjoyed it Saturday.

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