If going undefeated wasn’t good enough, breaking an NCAA record pushed the Oregon men’s golf team over the top.
Oregon’s dominant performance at the blustery Ka’anapali Golf Course proved that the men’s golf team was ready to make the jump to No. 1 in the Golf Coaches Association of America Coaches poll, marking the highest ranking in program history.
Oregon shot a ridiculous 30-under in the opening, setting a new NCAA record, as confirmed by Golfweek and Golfstat, for the lowest single round score.
Freshman Aaron Wise shot 5-under-par 66 in the opening round, a score that would normally put him at the top of the leaderboard, but was dropped from the record round.
“In the team meeting after the round, I kind of jokingly called him out,” head coach Casey Martin said. “’Look Aaron, you’re not helping the team, it’s a real disappointment.’”
Joke or not, Wise challenged himself to make the cut.
In the third round, Wise shot a team best 6-under-par 65, putting him in prime position to win the event outright. With one hole to go, North Florida’s M.J. Maguire sank a birdie putt to tie the score with Wise and force a playoff.
It took just one hole to decide it as Wise nailed a birdie putt to win his first collegiate event, marking the second time this season a freshman has come through in the clutch for the Ducks.
“A lot of that comes from the way we practice with the team,” Wise said. “We have a lot of competitions and the rounds we play always come down to the last few holes, we have to make a few putts and we feel like when we’re in those situations in tournaments, we’re used to it. We’re able to draw on the experience we get from our practices and perform the shot properly.”
Oregon is 4-0 for the first time in program history, owns the best record in all of college golf and now holds the NCAA record for the best round in history. However, those accomplishments won’t mean much if Oregon can’t perform well in the postseason. But right now, Martin isn’t worried about things so far down the line.
“We don’t talk about that,” Martin said. “They know where they’re ranked and what that means, but for these guys, if all five of them can just keep chipping away and get better, then look out.”
If Oregon does find itself making the cut at the NCAAs later this season, it will be because of a strong mixture of experienced upperclassmen and talented freshmen carrying their own weight the whole way.
“There’s no one guy on our team that sticks out as someone who is overly cocky or arrogant or anything like that,” junior Brandon McIver said. “Everyone comes to practice with a mentality to get better. Be humble, take what you get and if you work hard we know everything else will take care of itself.”
The Ducks will take a month off before heading back into the tournament circuit in February. When they do tee off, it will be into uncharted territory as the nation’s top team.
Follow Josh Schlichter on Twitter @joshschlichter