June 3, 2010

By Bucky Dent
Special to NCAA.com

OOLTEWAH, Tenn. -- Scott Langley finished his last round at the NCAA Division I men's golf championships Thursday at The Honors Course with a one-shot lead and then waited.

And waited, and waited, and waited some more.

In total, it took about six hours from the end of his round, but he officially became the individual medalist after the sun set in Southeast Tennessee.

Langley's 4-under 68 gave him a 10-under 206 for 54 holes, bettering contenders such as San Diego's Alex Ching (208), Oklahoma State's Peter Uihlein (208), Oregon State University's Diego Velasquez (209) and Augusta State's Henrik Norlander (210).

It was the junior's first individual title this season and the first in Illini program history, which includes such standouts as Steve Stricker.

"I didn't have too many expectations coming in here, but I felt good about my game," Langley said. "I knew this was a difficult, challenging course, but my ball-striking helped me out."

In a week where many players used multiple runs of birdies to light up a tough track that's been weakened by rain and a lack of wind, Langley wasn't spectacular, except for an eagle from the 15th fairway Wednesday.

Instead, he won with consistency, making just five bogeys in three days and going 28 holes without a bogey in a stretch that bridged the first and second rounds.

Langley said the 7,395-yard course was a good fit for his game.

"I feel like it suits me well," he said. "It actually reminds me a lot of the courses where I am from. I feel like I'm at home out here with the way the grass is."

The lefthander from suburban St. Louis intends to return for a likely title defense next year and has other goals in mind.

"I would like to do the Walker Cup," he said.

Ching entered the round with the lead, but faded with a 1-over par 73 that ended in bitter fashion. He had a chance to tie Langley with a birdie at 18, but errant tee and iron shots left him with a difficult chip out of the greenside rough that never got close.

Norlander started just two shots off the lead, but matched Ching's 73, finishing in fifth place at 6-under par.

Oklahoma State's Peter Uihlein tied Ching for second at 8-under, carding a 1-under 71 that helped the Cowboys claim the top seed for Friday's match-play quarterfinals.

Uihlein reached 9-under after bagging a birdie at No. 5, but took consecutive bogeys at Nos. 7 and 8.

That's the kind of killing mistake Langley mostly avoided.

"I've learned if you think about that stuff too much, it usually doesn't help. I just tried to focus on playing solid golf, playing smart and bogey-free. I was almost able to do that," he said.

And because he did, Langley left The Honors with top honors.