No one deserved to lose!
Such a dreaded cliche but so appropriate in the case of Oregon vs. Texas at Eugene Country Club, with two great teams and two of the best coaches on the planet reminding us for the 49,721st time that team match play golf is just a bigger, better beast.
So glad we kept it out of the Olympic Games.
Anyway, it was a viewing joy to watch Sulman Raza and Taylor Funk go to sudden death to decide the NCAA title, but kind of cruel to have a title come down to sudden death on one team's home course.
From Jay Coffin's GolfChannel.com game story:
Drama was oozing from both sides.
Then they played the matches.
Fast forward to the end, because that’s truly all that mattered on this day. With the matches tied 2-2, the championship was decided by a PGA Tour winner’s son (Texas sophomore Taylor Funk, Fred’s son) and a man who grew up in Eugene (Oregon junior Sulman Raza), the two playing in front of hundreds of Ducks fans hanging on every swing.
Then that match went three extra holes.
You can’t make this stuff up.
But something was different this week. Well, not from the get-go. In the first round, Oregon, Golfweek‘s No. 22, played closer to its ranking than its host status, only getting out to a tie for 19th in the 30-team after 18 holes.
Martin gave his team just a bit of a kick in the rear end, and all was good the rest of the week.
The Ducks stormed up to a tie for fourth the next day and stayed comfortable inside the bubble, finishing the stroke play sixth – well within the top eight to make it to match play.
Then, after an early deficit to defending national champion LSU in the quarterfinals (Oregon trailed all five matches in the opening holes), the Ducks remained positive and turned it around in a 3-1-1 victory. They then took down juggernaut Illinois, 3-2.
Beth Ann Nichols at Golfweek.com on coach Casey Martin winning on the course he grew up playing.
After the round, Martin told Golf Channel's Steve Burkowski...
“They are just competitors. They worked hard and they are great players. It is all about these guys. I haven’t hit a shot, I just told them to breathe. That was the extent of my work. These guys did an awesome job. It is a special group and it is so awesome to bring this to Oregon.”
“It is too hard to explain. We have never had a national championship. We had the individual champion, we had the team champion and the local boy made the putt to win it. It is just unbelievable.”
Brentley Romine on Texas handling the loss with class and Taylor Funk loving every minute of the immense playoff pressure.
And this from UT's Coach John Fields, always classy, especially in defeat, talking to Golf Channel's Curt Byrum after the last putt was made. He was clearly already aware that even in defeat, his team helped showcase college golf:
“You work really hard as a coach and for these players, you come with a dream that someday maybe you can do something special like this. For them [Oregon] to do it with their home crowd here is magnificent. It is good for college golf. It’s good for everybody concerned, but not us right now, because it is stinging. It will be tough for our guys. But that is what it is all about. You’ve got to keep getting better.”
The final round highlight package from Golf Central:
The winning putt by Raza:
Tracy Wilcox's Golfweek.com photo gallery is stellar as always.