Eugene Country Club sits less than two miles from Auzten Stadium, which seems only appropriate given that the finals of the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship on Wednesday looked and felt a lot like a college football game, right down to the screaming fans storming the field after the home team claimed victory.
With Oregon and Texas tied 2-2 (which is a story in and of itself), Duck redshirt junior Sulman Raza rolled in a five-foot birdie on the 21st hole of his match against Taylor Funk to give his school its first NCAA team title in golf.
On the 18th hole, Raza had a chance to win the title but his 25-foot birdie try missed left, and on the 19th hole his 10-footer for birdie missed right. He then sweated out Funk missing an eight-foot birdie on the 20th hole that would have given the Longhorns their second national title in five years before pulling off his heroics on the 21st.
Before the first ball was struck Wednesday, Oregon was already leading the finals 1-0 after Texas junior Beau Hossler had to concede his match with Zach Foushee. The left shoulder injury that Hossler suffered the day before in the semifinals hadn’t improved enough for him to be able to play. (As it turns out, his gutsy victory over USC’s Andrew Levitt on Tuesday was Hossler's last college round as the first-team All-American and national player-of-the-year favorite is expected to turn pro in the coming days.)
The Ducks then went up 2-0 when Edwin Yi beat Gavin Hall, 4 and 3. But to their credit, the Longhorns, trying to become the first No. 1 seed to win the NCAA title since match play was adopted in 2009, didn’t fade away. Scottie Scheffler upset NCAA individual champion Aaron Wise, 4 and 3, and Doug Ghim knocked off Thomas Lin, 2 and 1.
The fans, who numbered in the thousands, were excited for Raza and the rest of the Duck squad that won the school’s first team title in a sport other than track and field since Oregon’s 1939 hoops team. They also were cheering coach Casey Martin, another Eugene native who, after famously trying to play on the PGA Tour, took over as the Ducks’ coach in 2006-’07.