Texas’ Fields, ’Bama’s Thomas earn honors

Alabama's Justin Thomas during the final round of stroke play at the 2012 NCAA Championship.

Men's Rankings »

RankNameSchoolRating
1Cheng Tsung PanWashington  67.01 
2Ollie SchniederjansGA Tech  67.55 
3Lee McCoyGeorgia  67.60 
4Maverick McNealyStanford  67.74 
5Charlie DanielsonIllinois  68.40 

Men's Team Rankings »

RankNameRatingEvents
1Illinois 68.99 
2Florida State 69.66 
3LSU 70.00 
4Texas 70.02 
5Oregon 70.04 

During the regular season, Texas won six tournaments, boasted two of the top three players in the country and held the No. 1 ranking for all but two weeks.

“That’s a lot of pressure entering nationals,” Longhorns coach John Fields said, “because people said all the time that we have the best team in college golf, maybe one of the best of all time. But if you fail, whose fault is it?”

Fortunately for Fields, that question went unanswered. The Longhorns edged Alabama, 3-2, at the NCAA Division I Men’s Championship to give Texas its first national title since 1972. For his part in the program’s breakthrough, Fields was named Golfweek’s Coach of the Year.

“It’s extra special because you take alot of shots from your contemporaries,”said Fields, 53, who completed his 15th season at Texas. “When you’re out there recruiting and you haven’t won one and you’re at Texas, they say, ‘That guy can’t coach. He’s the worst coach in America. He doesn’t get kids where they need to go.’ They throw mud.

“To have something like this happen, it kind of vindicates you. It’s an opportunity to say, ‘Well, all that hard work paid off.’ ”

Though his team left Riviera disappointed, Alabama freshman Justin Thomas returned home feeling emboldened by the fact that he had emerged as the top player in college golf. Seemingly always overshadowed by Texas’ Jordan Spieth and others during his junior career, Thomas, of Goshen, Ky., won his first college event, then went on a tear in the spring, bringing home titles at the Puerto Rico Classic, SEC Championship and NCAA Southeast Regional.

Earlier this month, he won the Phil Mickelson (top freshman) and Jack Nicklaus (top player) awards, and now Thomas has added another honor: Golfweek’s Player of the Year, after finishing the 2011-12 season No. 1 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings.

“I expected to play well,” said Thomas, 19, “but I never dreamed I’d win four times and be in contention so often. It definitely was cool to make a name for myself and play the way I did in the spring.”

Golfweek’s first-team All-Americans

FIRST TEAM

Justin Thomas, Fr., Alabama*

Jordan Spieth, Fr., Texas*

Dylan Frittelli, Sr., Texas

Patrick Rodgers, Fr., Stanford*

Chris Williams, Jr., Washington

Eugene Wong, Sr., Oregon

Blayne Barber, Jr., Auburn

Julien Brun, Fr., TCU*

T.J. Vogel, Jr., Florida

Daniel Miernicki, Sr., Oregon

SECOND TEAM

Patrick Cantlay, So., UCLA

Stephan Jaeger, Sr., Tenn.-Chattanooga

Cory Whitsett, So., Alabama

Luke Guthrie, Sr., Illinois

Pedro Figueiredo, Jr., UCLA

Ben Kohles, Sr., Virginia

Julio Vegas, Jr., Texas

Bobby Wyatt, So., Alabama

Andrew Yun, Jr., Stanford

Brooks Koepka, Sr., Florida State

THIRD TEAM

J.J. Spaun, Sr., San Diego State

Steve Lim, Sr., USC

Thomas Pieters, So., Illinois

James White, Sr., Georgia Tech

Sean Dale, Jr., North Florida

Cheng-Tsung Pan, Fr., Washington*

Max Homa, Jr., California

Robert Karlsson, Sr., Liberty

Peter Williamson, Sr., Dartmouth

Corbin Mills, Jr., Clemson

HONORABLE MENTION

Julian Suri, Jr., Duke

Anders Albertson, Fr., Georgia Tech

Ethan Tracy, Sr., Arkansas

Talor Gooch, So., Oklahoma State

Michael Kim, Fr., California

Joakim Mikkelsen, Sr., Baylor

Brandon Hagy, So., California

Zachary Blair, Jr., BYU

Sang Yi, Sr., LSU

Jeffrey Kang, So., USC

Kevin Aylwin, Sr., North Florida

Nate McCoy, Sr., Iowa State

Dominic Bozzelli, Jr., Auburn

Josh Anderson, Sr., Pepperdine

Cameron Peck, Jr., Texas A&M

Max Scodro, Sr., Notre Dame

Sebastian Cappelen, So., Arkansas

Hunter Hamrick, Sr., Alabama

Corey Conners, So., Kent State

Ricardo Gouveia, So., Central Florida

• * all-freshman team

Note: Teams determined by players’ order in Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings

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