There was no squeaking into the next stage of postseason play this time.
The Longhorns were not able to mount a comeback in the final round of the NCAA Championship and failed to qualify for the match play portion of the tournament. The Longhorns stayed near the middle of the pack most of the tournament, and finished in 12th place at 31-over for the tournament, thus ending their season in Oklahoma City at Karsten Creek Golf Club.
It was an up-and-down year for Texas, marked by playing the toughest schedule in all of college golf, according to Golfweek magazine. The arduous task of competing with the nation’s top teams week in and week out finally seemed to take a toll on the Longhorns.
Junior Dylan Frittelli did his best to keep the team in the hunt for the top eight, but his even-par day was too little, too late. Frittelli scattered three birdies over his final round, and finished at four-over, tied for No. 20 individually.
Freshman Toni Hakula had been playing far beyond his age would suggest, recording a pair of one-over rounds in the first two days of the event. However, his youth got the better of him after he shot a disappointing seven-over in the final round. His lone bright spot on the day came at the 18th hole, when he eagled the 551-yard par five. Needless to say, his score could have been much worse had it not been for such an amazing finish to the round. Hakula finished the tournament at nine-over, tied for No.56 individually.
Sophomore Cody Gribble also tied for No. 56 at nine-over after the final round. After shooting five-over in the second round, Gribble improved in Thursday’s final round, recording five birdies and finishing the round at one-over.
After rounds of four- and six-over in the first two rounds, sophomore Julio Vegas also showed signs of improvement with a three-over final round. Vegas finished at No. 88 with a score of 13-over for the tournament, a far cry from what he is capable of on the golf course.
Maybe the biggest disappointment, in terms of performance, was senior Bobby Hudson. Once a nominee for the Ben Hogan Award, college golf’s version of the Heisman, Hudson struggled mightily down the stretch. With a 14-over for the tournament, Hudson laid claim to the team’s highest score. He finished in a tie for No. 94 individually.
On the bright side, the Longhorns will only lose two players in the offseason, as Bobby Hudson and Chris Causey will have exhausted their eligibility. With a young, experienced core still intact, Texas will surely be among the top teams to watch next year. The returning experience, plus the arrival of the nation’s top amateurs, Dallas Jesuit’s Jordan Spieth, means that the best is yet to come for this team.