By Mike Moguin
GTR Sports Writer
One solid day on the fairways was all Ben Stoller needed to win top medalist at state.
Stoller was the two-round leader at the Class 6A boys golf championship in May at Forest Ridge Golf Club in Broken Arrow.
Stoller shot a pair of 70s through both rounds on Day 1 to stand atop the standings at 140. Rain washed away competition on Day 2, leading to the tournament being shortened and a gold medal for the Owasso junior.
“I just became mentally tough. I started off weird – birdie, bogey, birdie, double bogey, birdie – on my first five holes, then I only had three bogeys on the next 31 holes,” Stoller said. “I kept my mental focus, but I’d say I just played smart golf and then I drove it pretty well.
“I’d also say part of the fact was I just stuck to my game plan and kept my head in the right zone,” Stoller added.
Still, not getting to play the scheduled second day was frustrating.
“I’m probably the most competitive person, at least that I’ve ever met. It could be cards. It could be golf,” Stoller said. “Golf is where I get the most competitive and so whenever I can compete, I want to compete. I was kind of upset, but it was the course’s decision and we can’t change that.”
Shots considered memorable by Stoller are a long one he made over the No. 2 green, a par-putt on No. 8 and another he made from 20 feet up the hill on another hole. “Those two pars were part of the reason I had the lead going into the final day,” he said.
As a team, Owasso placed 10th (332-318-650). Edmond North won the team championship (299-294-593).
Winning individually was also special after no tournament was played last year.
The Rams won the team title in 2019 and were expected to win again last year. But then COVID-19 came.
“We were the defending state champs, even headed into this year because last year we didn’t get to play. In my freshman year, we had a team under the radar and won. But we didn’t have a single senior, so going into last year, we were probably the team to beat,” Stoller said.
With the pandemic wiping out the season, the Rams did not get to put their experience on display. They would lose three of their starting five golfers and six overall to graduation.
“It was tough having last season canceled, because I think as a team, we looked really good and I felt like my game was starting to progress a lot better than when I was as a freshman. So it definitely meant a lot to win one, especially as a junior.
Owasso played in one tournament last year before the shutdowns took place.
“It sucks that it happened, but you can’t change anything about it,” Stoller said.
Favorite PGA golfers for the soon-to-be Owasso senior are Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth and Steve Stricker. Stoller plans to play in junior golf tournaments this summer.
After graduating next year, he will be taking his golf game to Kansas State.
In the meantime, he plans to win state again next year.
“I just have to keep building my swing and my body to the point where I want it to be and I have to maintain that,” Stoller said. “Then I just have to keep developing the shots, and continue to get better on the greens and be a better putter.”