Men's countdown: No. 30 Oregon
We are taking the next 30 days to count down the top 30 men's teams heading into the fall college season.
• • •
2012-13 Golfweek rank: 44
Go-to guy: Junior Rak Cho
Season outlook: Last season, the Ducks failed to advance to the NCAA Championship for just the third time in seven years under head coach Casey Martin. Oregon was in fourth place entering the final round of the NCAA Tallahassee Regional before a 6-over 294 dropped the Ducks to eighth, two shots out of a playoff for the fifth and final NCAA Championship berth.
“We really had it,” Martin said. “It was just a horrific finish to miss by two. That left us with a bittersweet taste in our mouth.”
Martin said he didn’t quite know what to expect out of last season's young team. After the graduation of several senior starters, Oregon featured a lineup of two sophomores and three freshmen down the stretch. But with nearly every top player returning, Martin expects much more this time around.
A pair of juniors will anchor the team. Rak Cho led the Ducks in scoring average last year at 72.52, and Jonathan Woo also had a strong spring, winning the Duck Invitational and posting a top 10 at the Tallahassee Regional. Sophomores Sulman Raza, Brandon McIver and Zach Foushee each logged eight or more tournaments as freshmen.
Oregon also adds freshman Thomas Lim, who finished runner-up at the Oregon Amateur in June. Lim was medalist at the event before falling to former Oregon State player Nick Chianello.
The Ducks will no doubt gain more experience from a tough fall slate. But youth no longer fully applies to this group – and Martin certainly won't use it as an excuse. He is counting on his team to return to the NCAA Championship.
“We’re still going to be young in a lot of ways,” Martin said. “But there is still that drive to want to compete at the highest level.”
– Brentley Romine