WAIKOLOA, Hawaii – Not even a two-month break could slow Texas – or player-of-the-year frontrunner Jordan Spieth.
The Longhorns, the No. 1 team in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings on the strength of three consecutive victories to close the fall, continued to roll in the first event of the spring, holding off USC down the stretch to win the Amer Ari Invitational. Texas finished at 30-under 834, five shots clear of the Trojans. Stanford, Georgia Tech and UCLA rounded out the top 5 at the Waikoloa Beach Resort.
Spieth birdied the final two holes during his bogey-free round of 67 to post 11-under 205 and force a playoff with USC sophomore Jeffrey Kang, but it still wasn’t enough to win the individual title. Kang parred the first extra hole to win medalist honors for the first time in his career. Stanford’s Patrick Rodgers was third at 9-under 207.
It was the fourth team title of the season for Texas, after winning the Jerry Pate, Jack Nicklaus and Isleworth in its final three starts of the fall. The Longhorns play again in two weeks, at the Purdue/Puerto Rico Invite, but may be without Spieth. The freshman from Dallas received a sponsor exemption into the PGA Tour’s Northern Trust Open, which will conflict with the Puerto Rico event. The Northern Trust is played at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif., site of this year’s NCAA Championship. Spieth hasn’t finished outside the top 6 in four college starts this season.
UCLA sophomore Patrick Cantlay, Golfweek‘s 2011 player of the year, tied for 49th in Hawaii.