Golf heads to Georgia

Peter Sblendorio

Coming off its first national title since 1972, Longhorn Golf will begin their title defense this weekend at the Carpet Capital Collegiate in Rocky Face, Ga.

Expectations this season are high for the Longhorns as they begin the year ranked second behind Alabama in both the Golf World/Nike and Golfweek polls. Texas suffers a slight drop-off in the rankings from a year ago, as it sat at the top spot for all but two weeks last season.

The three-day event will play host to a 15-team field this weekend, including five of the top-15 ranked teams in the NCAA. Alabama, Auburn, Georgia Tech and North Florida figure to be the Longhorns’ toughest competition in the tournament.

The Longhorns enter their first event of the year eager to repeat last year’s success. In addition to winning its third NCAA championship, Texas came out on top in seven regular season tournaments last season.

Sophomore Jordan Spieth will headline the Longhorns’ lineup this weekend after a strong freshman campaign. He begins the year as the sixth ranked amateur player in the world after winning the 2012 Big 12 Conference Player of the Year and medaling four times last year.

The Longhorns will also send senior Julio Vegas, who recorded six top 10 finishes in 2011-12, to Georgia this weekend. Junior Cody Gribble was originally slated to be Texas’ second golfer in the 2012-13 season opener before falling ill.

Freshman Brandon Stone, who is the 30th ranked amateur player in the most recent world rankings, will make his debut this weekend for the Longhorns. Rounding out the lineup for Texas will be sophomore Kramer Hickok, who competed in six events last season, and junior Johnathan Schnitzer, who will be playing in his 15th tournament with the Longhorns after redshirting last season.

The Longhorns have high hopes to repeat as champions this season and their first test of the season will begin Friday when they tee off at 9:30 a.m.