• Spieth struggles in shocking loss in opening round

    Following a disastrous opening match loss to Hideto Tanihara 4 and 2 in the World Golf Championship-Dell Technologies Match Play Event, Jordan Spieth says he will be “rooting for a Ryan Moore victory tomorrow.” 

    If both Spieth and Moore win their Thursday matches, their clash on Friday would be a de facto play-in match for the single elimination stage of the tournament. 

    Spieth will surely be rooting against Moore if that were to occur — match play is a funny game. 

    Spieth never looked comfortable Wednesday on the course he knows so well from his playing days at the University of Texas. He had multiple uncharacteristic mistakes on the day, including an ugly pull-hooked approach shot on No. 12. He would bogey the hole and give Tanihara a 3 up advantage he would never relinquish. 

    Even playing against Spieth — the Austin darling and hometown favorite — Tanihara assured the media he felt right at home on the wind-blown Austin Country Club. And he backed it up with his play. 

    “I knew if I brought my “A” game, I could probably compete against him,” Tanihara said. 

    Tanhihara showed methodical precision throughout the day, limiting his mistakes and taking advantage of miscues from Spieth. Tanihara capitalized on three bogeys by Spieth over the final nine holes to close out the match on the 16th hole. 

    “Just an off day,” Spieth said. “Played a really good opponent… He only made one mistake all day.” 

    Earlier in the week, Spieth commented that he can’t wait for this year’s Masters to be behind him. And who can blame him? Every week he faces the same questions about his back-nine collapse at Augusta National 12 months ago. 

    And as the azaleas of Augusta get closer and closer to blooming, Spieth seems to be more and more fixated with the allure of reclaiming the green jacket. After a 20 minute post-round session on the range, he couldn’t help but talk about tuning up his swing in preparation for the Masters in two weeks.  

    “I liked my wedge play,” Spieth said. “I’ve been working on that. Different trajectories, I need that in a couple of weeks.” 

    If he can’t get his game in shape in the next two days, he’ll have all weekend to prepare for his long-awaited return to Augusta National. 

  • Championship berths aplenty for Longhorns in Columbia

    All-American senior Mark Anderson and freshman Grayson Campbell punched their tickets to the NCAA Championships in Indianapolis, with both claiming top-seven finishes in the one-meter finals at the NCAA Zone “D” Diving Meet in Columbia, Missouri.

    Anderson claimed an additional berth with a second place finish in the three-meter finals, and Campbell followed suit with an eighth place finish.

    On the three-meter platform, freshman Jacob Cornish claimed a top-15 finish as a non-qualifier, delivering yet another NCAA Championships berth for Texas.

    For men’s head coach Eddie Reese, these berths are a product of a relentless, yearlong work ethic.

    “(We) want to have a good summer season, want to have a good regular season, and just keep going, getting better each time,” Reese said. “That’s the name of the game.”

    On the women’s side, freshman Alison Gibson posted a top-ten finish in the three-meter finals to punch her ticket to Indianapolis. Sophomore Meghan O’Brien added to the depth of the Championship roster by clinching berths in the one-meter and three-meter finals.

    Gibson also claimed a berth in the one-meter finals, making the cut with a 12th place finish.

    With the group set, Texas will have a week’s break before their trip to the NCAA Championships in Indianapolis.

    “We work all year to go to the NCAAs and compete with everybody there,” Reese said.

    The qualified divers join 15 Texas Swimmers who will get their shot as part of the entourage to Indianapolis, where the NCAA Championships are set for March 22-25 for men and March 15-18 for the women’s team.

  • Herman stresses winning culture as spring football begins

    A new era of Texas football will be ushered in Tuesday. The Longhorns will finally begin practicing under first-year head coach Tom Herman.

    The NCAA mandates that teams must train without pads and equipment in the first two spring practices. This will allow the Texas players and coaches to familiarize themselves with the young roster. 

    “The first two practices won’t tell us much other than the two things that I think are really important,” Herman said. “The two things that we demand in this program — that we don’t coach, we don’t teach, but we demand — are effort and ball security. If a guy doesn’t go hard, that’s hard to fix, so we want to see guys that go really hard.”

    Texas returns 17 offensive and defensive starters from 2016’s 5–7 campaign, but the team’s veterans are willing to adapt to Herman’s new methods in order to avoid a fourth-straight losing season.

    “I think our guys are embarrassed,” Herman said. “They understand that change is necessary in order to achieve some of their goals.”

    The revamped coaching staff plans to implement a winning culture at Texas, which Herman believes created in spring practices.

    “You have to set the expectation level early when developing a culture and developing a program,” Herman said. “I would hope after 15 practices, they would know what that expectation level is.”

  • Longhorns earn Big 12 honors

    The Longhorns claimed four Big 12 Conference awards Wednesday after churning out a 15-3 conference record and 22-7 record overall in the 2016-17 regular season.

    Brooke McCarty became the first player in program history to earn the Big 12 Player of the Year honor. The junior guard averaged a team-high 14.1 points per game this season while shooting 43.3 percent from beyond the arc. 

    Senior guard Brianna Taylor captured the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year award after leading the Longhorns on the defensive end this season. This is the second consecutive year a Longhorn has won the award as Imani Boyette won a share of it last season. 

    Joyner Holmes snagged the Big 12 Freshman of the Year title after winning seven Big 12 Freshman of the Week honors this season and carrying the Longhorns in the post. The forward led all Big 12 freshman in scoring, rebounding and double-doubles. Holmes was a unanimous selection to the Big 12 All-Freshman Team.

    Head coach Karen Aston joined her players with an honor of her own, claiming the Big 12 Coach of the Year award in her fifth season in Austin. 

    Junior guard Ariel Atkins joined McCarty and Holmes on the All-Big 12 First Team, and joined Taylor on the Big 12 All-Defensive Team. Senior center Kelsey Lang received All-Big 12 Honorable Mention.

    The Longhorns are looking to continue their success in the Big 12 Tournament this weekend in Oklahoma City.