NCAA Men's Golf Championship: Oregon Ducks win first team title

 

A fairy tale NCAA Championship week for the Oregon men's golf team ended in euphoria on Wednesday. 

In front of green and yellow-clad fans that ringed the Eugene Country Club's 18th green five deep, the Ducks earned the first NCAA Men's Golf Championship in school history, clinching the title with a victory in a final match that went three playoff holes.

Oregon started the day at an advantage when Longhorn star Beau Hossler was forced to concede due to a shoulder injury, handing opponent Zach Foushee and the Ducks a point right out the gate.

But the Longhorns were game, winning two of the first three matches on the course and leaving the outcome in doubt until the 21st hole of the final match. 

In the end, it was the Eugene native and new household name to Duck fans everywhere -- Sulman Raza -- who drained the title-clinching putt and sparked a celebration that rattled through the pines.

"It is a special group and it's so awesome to bring it to Oregon," said Oregon coach Casey Martin, who lives on the course. "It's surreal. This is my home... this is a track school, a football school and a basketball school. Now it's a golf school too."

Here's how the day played out in chronological order:

Zach Foushee (Oregon) DEFEATS Beau Hossler (Texas) 1 by CONCESSION

Oregon essentially secured the first point of Wednesday's final on Tuesday evening, when Texas star Beau Hossler spent the last hour of his semifinal match falling to his knees in pain following each swing. Texas coach John Fields had no choice but to place Hossler's name in the lineup according to the rules, but the point was officially posted for the Ducks when Hossler's name was announced on the first tee at 2:20 p.m. Wednesday, doffed his cap and conceded.

Edwin Yi (Oregon) DEFEATS Gavin Hall (Texas) 4&3

The Ducks' second point of the day was secured by Oregon freshman Edwin Yi over Hall, whom he had on the ropes throughout the back nine. Yi made a 30-foot putt on 13 to go five up with five to play, missed a five footer that would have sealed it on 14, then closed out the match with a routine par on 15. "I just had a blast," Yi told the Golf Channel. 

Scottie Scheffler (Texas) DEFEATS Aaron Wise (Oregon) 4&3

Aaron Wise's magical week included an individual NCAA championship on Monday, but the spell broke on Wednesday. Scottie Scheffler was essentially in control of the match from 4th hole on. He fended off a gut punch on 14 when Wise made a 60-foot bomb to momentarily have a sliver of hope, only to see Scheffler pour in a 10-footer on top of him to maintain his 3-hole cushion.

Wise 4-putted the treacherous 15th green and Scheffler made a 8-footer to win the hole, and match, closing the Ducks' lead to 2-1 with two groups still on the course. "I was a little physically tired out there but mentally I was ready to go," Wise said of the final round of an exhausting week. 

Doug Ghim (Texas) DEFEATS Thomas Lim (Oregon) 2&1

Thomas Lim, who has been battling the flu for days, lost two of his first three holes to Doug Ghim, fought back to take a 2-hole lead, then faded on the back nine. Ghim made a clutch birdie putt on 15 to go 3 up, then closed out the match on 16. The overall match now was tied 2-2 with all eyes on Funk vs. Raza.

Sulman Raza (Oregon) DEFEATS Taylor Funk (Texas) 1UP in 21

Oregon junior and Eugene native Sulman Raza stayed in direct contact with Taylor Funk throughout the day; their match was never separated by more than one hole through the full 18 regulation and 3 extra holes. It included 5 lead changes -- and a season's worth of tension.

Down the home stretch, with Ghim comfortably up on Lim in the group behind, Raza vs. Funk became the focus. Funk bogeyed 17 and Raza made a 5-footer to send it to 18 all square. Great drama. 

On 18 it was Funk's turn to make a clutch 5-footer and extend the match. More drama.

Back to 10 for the first extra hole. Ghim's point was now on the board, evening the overall match at 2-2; this was the championship match for sure. Raza stiffed a wedge to within 4 feet but couldn't coax in the birdie putt. Funk made a two-putt par. Fans sprinted to 18 so as to not miss a moment.

Back to 18 for the second extra hole where it was Funk's turn to attempt a championship-clinching putt from makeable distance.

No dice. Shrieks from the gallery.

Back to 10, following a water break: Funk's approach finished 20 feet short. Raza's wedge reply was stiff to within 6 feet. After Funk's lag putt was short, it was Raza's turn to stare down a short putt with everything on the line...

Raza took his time, then drained the putt (with a bit extra on it), inspiring cheers of "Let's Go Ducks!" and a dogpile including Oregon's men's and women's teams atop their hero.

"I felt like everything was on my shoulders," Raza said of the excruciating last hours of competition.

Also on Raza: Many of pats on the back:

 

 

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