Texas serves as shining example of resiliency in narrow NCAA defeat

Texas serves as shining example of resiliency in narrow NCAA defeat

Men

Texas serves as shining example of resiliency in narrow NCAA defeat

By

EUGENE, Ore. – Texas might have been a man down before its match with Oregon to decide the NCAA Championship even started, but the Longhorns showed enough heart Wednesday to make up for it.

The Longhorns’ gutsy performance nearly earned them the victory in a 3-2 loss.

Playing the host Ducks on essentially Oregon’s home golf course, Eugene Country Club, in front of a dramatically pro-Oregon crowd, the top-ranked and top-seeded Longhorns nonetheless entered the finale as underdogs. And that was before word surfaced that junior Beau Hossler would have to forfeit his match because of a left-shoulder injury.

Hossler, who injured the shoulder Tuesday during his semifinal match against USC’s Andrew Levitt but fought back to earn the winning point to send Texas to the final, was scheduled to play Oregon senior Zach Foushee. Instead, Hossler was relegated to cheerleader, and his withdrawal gave crowd-favorite Oregon the early advantage.

“I have a lot of confidence in our guys,” Hossler said before the match. “They have a lot of guts.”

He was right. Led by a trio of sophomores, the Longhorns nearly pulled off the man-down victory.

First, there was Scottie Scheffler, the 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur champion who, by his standards, struggled at times this season. On Wednesday, he was matched against Oregon’s best player, Aaron Wise, who two days earlier had won the NCAA individual title.

“I knew going into that match it was going to be pretty important, and it would be big for our team if I was able to take down their best player,” Scheffler said. “I got off to a pretty solid start, and I just kept it rolling. The crowds are pretty loud out there, and I just tried to create a spark for our team.”

Scheffler never trailed in his match, and right around the time Oregon’s Edwin Yi was putting the finishing touches on a 4-and-3 victory over Gavin Hall, Scheffler matched Wise’s crowd-pleasing birdie putt on the par-3 14th hole, and eventually got Texas on the board with a 4-and-3 win of his own.

Second, there was Doug Ghim, who has match-play success of his own as a junior golfer, finishing runner-up at the 2014 U.S. Amateur Public Links and making the semifinals of the 2013 U.S. Junior.

Ghim trailed Oregon junior Thomas Lim, 2 down, through seven holes, but then rallied on the back nine to finish off Lim, 2 and 1, and set the table for one of the most dramatic endings in NCAA match-play history.

Lastly, there was Taylor Funk, the son of a PGA Tour winner who enjoyed a breakout spring and gave the Longhorns much-needed help at the bottom of the lineup.

Funk battled Oregon’s Sulman Raza for three playoff holes before Raza eventually closed out the match with a birdie at the par-4 10th hole. Although he had his chances to win – most notably a birdie putt at the second playoff hole, No. 18, that just missed – Funk showed the poise and clutch ability of a seasoned collegian.

“There were a lot of nerves,” Funk said. “Obviously, there is a hometown crowd for Oregon, so I wanted to keep that as quiet as possible. Obviously the nerves were there. I loved every minute of it. That is what you live for, and we didn’t come out on top this time, but there will be many more opportunities, and I’m looking forward to those.”

Said Hossler, of Funk: “I’m really proud of him. He’s one of my roommates and one of my really good friends, and he’s done some amazing things to come along here this year.”

Hossler has done some pretty amazing things, as well, during his Texas career, which came to a close in Eugene (Hossler will begin a promising pro career this summer, health-willing, of course).

The junior from Mission Viejo, Calif., ends his Texas career with 23 top 10s, including six victories, and was twice named a first-team All-American.

“We’ve had a lot of great players at Texas, whether it’s Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite, Justin Leonard, Mark Brooks, Jordan Spieth, just to name a few major champions,” Texas head coach John Fields said. “So when you’re compared with those guys and you have a chance to win the player of the year or the Fred Haskins Award, and you’re compared with those guys, well, then you know that you are a powerful difference maker to this program, and that’s what Beau Hossler has been to our program.”

Ghim talked Tuesday about the flight home from last year’s NCAA Championship in Bradenton, Fla., where Texas, one of the favorites, bowed out in the quarterfinals.

“We don’t want to have that flight again,” Ghim said.

They did end up having that flight, but the Longhorns have nothing to hang their heads about. Yes, they came up short of their ultimate goal, winning a national title, but no one was left questioning their resiliency.

“We had some unfortunate circumstances that we had to overcome, and we just almost did it, so you’ve got to give a lot of credit to every one of these guys,” Fields said. “They gave it their best this week. They gave their heart and soul. They worked really hard, and just came up a little bit short.

“I think everybody saw the heart and soul of our team this week, no question.”

Latest

More Golfweek
Home