Minot State University sophomore Kowan O'Keefe isn't the longest hitter on the Beaver men's golf team, but he's the most steady.
On a windy Sunday at the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Championships in Smithville, Mo., that consistency was enough.
O'Keefe fired an even-par 72 at the Paradise Pointe Outlaw Course - the best round of the day - to claim individual medalist honors. He began the day two shots out of first place.
"The wind had to be 20-30 miles an hour, pretty steady the whole time," said O'Keefe, who gave MSU an individual champion in its first year in the NSIC. "It was a real grind shooting the score I did. It was really going one shot at a time. ... I tried not to get too much ahead of myself."
O'Keefe was one of four golfers in the 12-team tournament to finish each of his four rounds in the 70s. His total score of 304 was two strokes ahead of second-place finisher Tyler Koivisto of St. Cloud State University (Minn.). With the victory, O'Keefe automatically qualified for the NCAA Super Regional tournament May 6-8 at a location to be determined.
"Kowan works extremely hard on his game on his own and it showed this season," MSU coach Chipper Farrell said in a press release. "We joke that he isn't going to hit it by anyone, but while he isn't the longest guy off the tee, he just doesn't make any mistakes. He is so steady and so smart that he doesn't need to be the longest driver."
O'Keefe's round of four birdies, four bogeys and 10 pars paced the Beavers, who moved from seventh place as a team into a tie for fourth. MSU's final round of 311 was the best of the day, but not nearly enough to catch SCSU. The Huskies finished more than 30 strokes ahead of the rest of the field.
Seniors Blair Anderson (78 strokes), Michael DeLorme (82) and Marion Hernandez (82) played their final rounds as Beavers. Junior Cody Duchscherer scored a 79 to round out MSU's scoring.