Players, coaches, family, friends and fans alike gathered in front of Littlefield Fountain Saturday night to light the tower orange in commemoration of the men’s golf team winning the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship for the first time since back-to-back victories in 1971 and 1972.
“It’s great, it’s what we’ve worked on since we started playing golf this year, and it’s pretty exciting. It’s not only for us, it’s for these people right here — we’re pretty blessed to have the people around us and we thank them for the support,” junior Julio Vegas said.
“It’s something that words cannot describe,” junior Cody Gribble said. “We did it, we finally did it! After 40 years the satisfaction is above and beyond.”
The tower was lit in the traditional, proud Texas burnt orange with the number one at the heart of the tower on all four sides. This is tradition whenever an athletic team wins a national championship. Aside from Saturday, the last time the tower commemorated a sports victory was 2010, when the Texas men’s swimming and diving team won the championship.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet. It’s something that’s gonna stay with us for the rest of our lives. It’s an amazing feeling — the adrenaline rushing when we knew it was going to be a reality when Dylan made that putt,” freshman Jordan Speith said.
“It’s hard to put into words,” head coach John Fields said. “Every one of us is extremely appreciative and proud to be from Texas and represent Texas. It’s wonderful, it’s what you dream of — it’s absolutely wonderful.”
The Longhorns saw themselves down 2-0 after the first two pairings before rallying to win three straight matches in the championship round of the NCAA tournament.
Texas’ first win came from Gribble, who sank a birdie on 17 over Alabama junior Scott Strohmeyer.
A match-up between two of the best amateurs nationwide, Speith and Alabama freshman Justin Thomas followed Gribble’s win, with Speith leading the whole day and taking a 3-hole lead by 15. This tied the match at 2-2 before heading to the final pairing between Texas senior All-American Dylan Frittelli and Alabama sophomore Corey Whitsett.
The match was tied after 17, and with Whitsett in position for a possible bogey on the 18th hole, Frittelli only need a two-putt to win.
Instead, he sank a stunning 30-foot putt to erase all hope the Crimson Tide had of winning, giving Texas its first men’s golf championship in 40 years.
“It was a dream come true,” Frittelli said Saturday evening after the tower was lit. “You couldn’t have scripted it any better. I made a 30-footer on the final green, and was engulfed by my teammates. It was an amazing occurrence and something that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”