Against any other team, what the No. 7 Oregon men’s golf team accomplished on Saturday at the NCAA Championship finals might have been enough. The stars played their roles to perfection, and no one wilted under the immense pressure.
But Texas is the No. 1 team in the nation for a reason, and even Oregon’s best wasn’t enough to overcome the Longhorns in a 3-2 defeat that ended their run for a national title.
“We played incredibly good golf today and even the guys who lost played really well,” Oregon head coach Casey Martin said to GoDucks.com. “Texas was just a stroke or two better than us today and I give them all the credit in the world because I think we made them earn it.”
Indeed, the one-two senior punch of All-Americans Eugene Wong and Daniel Miernicki was convincing in Oregon’s two victories on the day. Wong led throughout his duel against Texas’ Jordan Spieth and wound up with a one-up victory, while Miernicki seized the lead for good over Dylan Frittelli in dramatic fashion with an eagle on the seventeenth hole.
“We both had a pretty fast start,” Miernicki said to GoDucks.com. “I think we were both at five-under at the turn so that shows what it takes to make it this far and how well you have to play.”
Junior Robbie Ziegler and freshman Jonathan Woo lost their matchups earlier in the day, which put the onus on senior Andrew Vijarro to carry the team to victory. And he almost did, grabbing the lead over Julio Vegas on the 13th and 15th holes before eventually falling by two strokes.
It was the final hurrah for Oregon’s three seniors, and though the final result was bittersweet, Martin was unequivocal in his praise of the team.
“These seniors have just done so much for us,” Martin said to GoDucks.com. “We won six times this year. This was a really magical year and can’t say enough about what those three guys have meant to this program.”