Ducks Win Somber Northwest Collegiate Classic
Sept. 11, 2001
LEBANON, Ore. - The University of Oregon men's golf team knew what it had to do Tuesday. Play golf.
Holding the slimmest of margins, a one-stroke lead over Washington State entering the final round of the Northwest Collegiate Classic, there could be no letting up.
But Tuesday would be unlike any round of golf ever played by an Oregon squad.
As teams converged on the Mallard Creek Golf Course clubhouse for their early Tuesday tee times, the television set was not on ESPN or the Golf Channel, it was CNN.
Visibly shaken coaches and players were witnessing the aftermath of the unthinkable, four American airliners were hijacked by terrorists and intentionally crashed into strategic targets on the East Coast, including the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon. The second of the two World Trade Center towers collapsed less than an hour before the scheduled 8 a.m. Pacific tee time.
'There was a remarkable amount of humanitarianism in that room,' said Oregon coach Steve Nosler. 'Golf coaches can be a pretty cutthroat group because it's the nature of the game, but no one was thinking about themselves.
'We talked about what we should do, and we all decided it would be better to be out there on the course than inside watching the television all day. But it was not a decision we made lightly. What those terrorists did was in everybody's thoughts out there today.'
The ripple effects of Tuesday's terrorist attacks were felt by more than half the teams at the tournament. Four teams from California - Long Beach State, UC Irvine, San Jose State and Cal State Bakersfield - and the universities of Nevada, Texas-Arlington and Denver were scrambling to find vans to rent and drive back to their campus after all flights were grounded Tuesday afternoon. The University of Louisiana-Monroe, the team that traveled the farthest distance to compete in the tournament, may be stranded in Oregon until air traffic is restored.
Nosler, a seven-year Army veteran, also presented his team the option of not playing and two players who were in the field as individuals, senior Ben Auten and sophomore Mike Sica, decided not to compete. 'I gave each player on the team the opportunity to withdraw if they did not feel like playing and I respect the decision those two made. I also told the guys if they were going to play, they were going to give it everything we had.'
Oregon then went out and played golf, and played the game beautifully.
The Ducks fired a 6-under par 278 to defeat Washington State by 12 strokes and win the Northwest Collegiate Classic outright for the first time since 1991. Oregon tied UCLA and Washington for the 1998 title.
'This team played with more heart and guts than any team I can remember,' said Nosler. 'A 278 is a good score under any conditions and I have a great deal of respect for the guys on this team.'
Defending individual champion Chris Carnahan, a junior from nearby Albany, could not defend his individual title, but led the Duck charge Tuesday with a tournament-low round of 6-under 65. He finished second at minus-6, two strokes behind champion Sean Deacon of Oregon State.
Senior Aaron Byers, another Albany native, matched his best finish as a collegian, tying for third at 3-under following a 70 on Tuesday, while senior Brandon Harnden recorded his best finish in nearly a year, tying for eighth at 1-under. Sophomore Jimmy White from Eugene had the best tournament of his young career, tying for 12th at even par.
Oregon finished with a three-day total of 843, followed by Washington State at 855, Oregon State at 856, Long Beach State at 858 and Texas-Arlington at 861. It was Oregon's second win in it's last six events. The Ducks won by 17 strokes at last spring's Western Intercollegiate in Santa Cruz, Calif.
And in the end, they played golf.
'It's great to start the season off with a win, but under the circumstances, the jubilance wasn't there after this one,' said Nosler. 'All I want to do is go home to my wife and be with our children and grandchildren.'
Northwest Collegiate Classic
Mallard Creek Golf Course
6,693 Yards, Par-71
TEAM SCORES - 1, Oregon, 283-282-278-843. 2, Washington State, 286-280-289-855. 3, Oregon State, 283-287-286-856. 4, Long Beach State, 288-291-279-858. 5, Texas-Arlington, 286-286-287-859. 6, Cal State Bakersfield, 288-288-285-861. 7, Oregon State B, 296-287-282-865. 8, Denver, 285-289-295-869. 9, Nevada, 289-292-289-870. 10, Louisiana-Monroe, 287-295-296-878. 11, San Jose State, 296-290-293-879. 12, UC Irvine, 294-291-295-880. 13, Portland, 300-296-310-906. 14, Portland State, 303-303-304-910.
TOP 10 - 1. Sean Deacon, Oregon State, 70-67-68-205. 2, Chris Carnahan, Oregon, 68-74-65-207. 3 (tie), Aaron Byers, Oregon, 69-71-67-210, Mike Plate, Cal State Bakersfield, 73-70-67-210. 5 (tie), Michael Jurgensen, Oregon State, 70-68-73-211. Luke Main, Texas-Arlington, 68-73-70-211, Dustin White, Washington State, 71-69-71-211. 8 (tie), Brandon Harnden, Oregon, 73-69-70-212, James Salt, Oregon State, 74-71-67-212, Tommy Hart, Denver, 67-73-72-212, Daren Grieg, Oregon State, 73-71-68-212.