Brandon McIver

Oregon men’s golf breaks through at Ka’anapali and takes No. 1 rank

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

No. 2 Oregon men’s golf shatters program record in first round at Ka’anapali

The No. 2 Oregon men’s golf team shot a record breaking 30-under 254 in their opening round at the par-71 Ka’anapali Classic on Friday.

Oregon’s previous single round record was 17-under 267, set in 2009, but this performance shattered that record by 13 strokes, a notable margin of improvement for the nation’s newest elite golf program.

Obviously, all of Oregon’s golfers were on point today. Brandon McIver led the entire field with a 9-under 62, the best single round scorecard for a Duck since 2010. Jonathan Woo finished the first round in a three-way tie for second at 8-under 63, while Zach Foushee finished right behind Woo at 7-under 64. Freshmen Hurly Long and Aaron Wise finished at 6-under 65 and 5-under 66 respectively to round out the scorecard.

North Florida sits 15 strokes behind Oregon in second place, putting the Ducks in prime position to win their fourth straight event and potentially move into the No. 1 ranking.

Play resumes tomorrow at 10 a.m. PT at the Royal Ka’anapali Golf Course.

Follow Josh Schlichter on Twitter @joshschlichter

No. 2 Oregon men’s golf climbs the polls after hot start

Oregon men’s golf is now ranked in the top five of all three national polls after its best start since 2011.

The Ducks received five first-place votes in last week’s Golf Coaches Association of America Coaches Poll, climbing 11 spots from their previous ranking to No. 3. Golfstat’s rankings have Oregon at No. 2, while the Ducks are No. 5 in the Golfweek’s Sagarin ratings.

Oregon is one of just two teams that have won three tournaments this fall. Top ranked University of Illinois is the only other program that has accomplished that feat, but Illinois has already played in four tournaments while Oregon has maintained a perfect record through its first three outings.

Two of the teams Oregon topped in wins, UCLA and USC, have two tournament wins of their own, noticeably boosting Oregon’s strength of schedule. Golfweek ranked Oregon’s schedule at No. 19, while Golfstat placed Oregon’s comparative record at No. 3, overall.

“They really want to compete against the elite level teams,” head coach Casey Martin said. “We’re grateful that we are off to a good start.”

It’s just the second time in program history that Oregon has won three fall tournaments, marking a significant change of pace for the younger Ducks.

“It’s different from my first years when we kind of struggled as a team for a majority of our tournaments,” junior Brandon McIver said. “It’s nice to come out confident that we can do really well and prove to everyone that we have the potential and the talent along with the coaching staff to take this season and make the most of it.”

McIver is just one part of a now-experienced group of Oregon golfers that have not only carried the team up the leaderboards, but to victories over quality opponents.

Sophomore Thomas Lim leads the team with a 70.11 stroke average, while junior Zach Foushee is second with a 71.89 average and freshman Hurly Long comes in third at 72.11. McIver is tied with freshman Aaron Wise for fourth on the team with a 72.22 average.

Lim’s performance has attracted plenty of national attention. Golfweek ranked Lim No. 20 in the individual collegiate poll, making him the Pac-12′s third best golfer.

“I really want to start competing with teams like Texas and Oklahoma State and Alabama because those schools in their conferences are always powerhouses,” Lim said. “That’s where we need to be to have a chance at a national championship.”

With only three events under their belts, there is a lot of time for the Ducks to climb even higher in the polls, or fall out of relevance.

The Ducks will look to solidify their spot in the rankings as they head to Hawaii this week for the first annual Ka’anapali Classic Nov. 7-9 for the final event before their midseason break. The tournament will pit them against multiple competitive west coast programs as well as No. 25 Clemson.

Pac-12 play will ramp up in February when Oregon heads to California and Arizona before returning home for the Duck Invitational at the Eugene Country Club March 23-24.

Follow Josh Schlichter on Twitter @joshschlichter

Oregon men’s golf’s Hurly Long is ready for the next big stage

If Tiger Woods started at age 2, then Hurly Long might have a leg up on him. Long is the newest international addition to the Oregon men’s golf team and has been swinging the clubs since he was just 18 months old.

Raised in St. Leon-Rot, Germany, Long has been a star in Europe since he was just a child. At age seven, Long participated in the USKIDS World Championships, which ended up being Long’s big break.

“It made me want more,” Long, a freshman, said. “It motivated me to push harder and do more. It was always my dream to be on tour and be the next Tiger Woods and it was the first moment I realized that I really, really wanted it and I was going to give everything for it.”

Just a few years later, Long was named to the German Junior National Team and played in the prestigious British Boys tournament. Despite his growing reputation in Europe, Long didn’t consider staying in Europe as an option.

“I’ve been planning to go to college for about 15 years now,” Long said. “It was always what I wanted to do. I decided that early because it gives you a ‘Plan B’ if golf doesn’t work out. You have every opportunity in the world to get better here and at the same time, you can get educated and get a good degree.”

To get to the U.S., Long had to be noticed by American coaches. His father, Ted, who is known as the best golf coach in Germany, was instrumental in getting Long’s name circulating in the states. Eventually his father reached out to Oregon head coach Casey Martin, who flew out to watch Long win the Doral Publix Junior title at the Trump National Doral Golf Club in Miami, Florida. The rest is history.

“It was either going to be a coach like most coaches that manage the team with tee times, which is fine – they’re nice guys, good motivators, but maybe not quite so knowledgeable about the game – or Coach Martin,” Long said. “I knew I wasn’t going to get a better coach.”

After a golf filled summer that took Long from tournaments in Germany to Japan and then to Oregon in just a few days, Long has made a noticeable impact on the team, something that very few freshmen have done at Oregon. Last month, Long sunk a critical birdie in the first playoff round against Pac-12 rival USC to win the Itani Homes Collegiate in Pullman, Washington.

“He appears to show signs of being pretty clutch,” Martin said. “He’s been a huge addition, no doubt about it.”

Along with fellow freshman Aaron Wise, a three-time U.S. Amateur qualifier, Long is part of a uniquely experienced recruiting class.

“We don’t really view them as freshmen,” junior golfer Brandon McIver said. “They’re both really mature in their golf game. They’re meshing well with everyone else and their play has been a huge part of our success so far this season.”

Long might have a ways to go before he can catch up to Tiger, but he’s on the right track.

Thomas Lim carries Oregon men’s golf to Nike Golf win

After windy conditions knocked Thomas Lim out of contention on the Palouse last weekend, the sophomore bounced back and carried Oregon to the Nike Golf Collegiate Invitational team title on Tuesday at the par-70 Colonial Country Club.

With the field packed with powerhouse programs like Texas, Oklahoma and Stanford, Oregon was placed in the early-season spotlight and, yet again, the Ducks responded.

Lim birdied on three of the final five holes to push his team’s score to a field leading 11-over par over three rounds and lift his individual score to the top of the leaderboard at eight-under.

Pac-12 foe Stanford was right at Oregon’s heels for most of the final round, but the Ducks hit five-under on the final turn to hold off the Cardinal.

After Lim’s performance, and even-pars from Brandon McIver and Hurly Long in the final round, Oregon won its third fall tournament for just the second time in school history. The Ducks have never won four fall events.

With the individual title secured, Lim received a sponsor’s exemption to the 2015 PGA Tour Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial next May 21-24.

The Ducks will have a month to rest up before heading to Lahaina, Maui for the Ka’anapali Collegiate.

Follow Josh Schlichter on twitter @joshschlichter

Brandon McIver Excels Through Summer 2014

The 2014 summer has been scorching for Ducks golfer Brandon McIver. After finishing his 2014 sophomore season as second on the team with a final score average of 71.95,  McIver has thrived in multiple summer amateur tournaments as well as competing in the 2014 US Open and the 2014 US Amateur Championships. While McIver is already well known and respected …

Q&A: Just days away from his opening round at Pinehurst, Brandon McIver discusses his week at the US Open

Brandon McIver is possibly having the most eventful finals week of any University of Oregon student. Yesterday he played eighteen-holes with the 2010 PGA Tour Player of the Year, Jim Furyk, and today completed a practice session with Bill Haas and Brandt Snedeker. Those names may sound familiar. Haas was the leader after the opening round at The Masters this year and Snedeker currently ranks 33rd in the world. All that has led to some obvious excitement and restless nights. He got just five hours of sleep last night.

“It’s a stressful event,” his coach Casey Martin said. “Your emotions are tempered with the excitement and joy with a little bit of fear of playing in the US Open. But that’s part of the challenge as a player to rise to that occasion.”

The 285th ranked amateur in the world will try to take the advice of his coach in the sleep category the next couple days, before his 8:46 a.m. (ET) tee time this Thursday.

He took the time Tuesday to speak with the media about everything from the idea of representing his home state of Montana, to playing alongside the best golfers in the world.

From after the US Open Sectional at the Emerald Valley Golf course, the feeling of disappointment, to now, what have your emotions been like after hearing that you would have the opportunity to play in the US Open?

“After a night of sleeping it off I was fine. It’s competitive golf, that’s what happens, it’s a part of the sport. But obviously I was pretty thrilled to hear that I got a spot in the field.”

Were you surprised by that or did you kind of do the math and think there was a chance? 

“We had been doing the math and checking the scores from the various tournaments so we knew there was a chance but I wasn’t trying to get my hopes up. I wanted to be realistic about the situation. So for it to happen, I’m very fortunate.”

Was this a situation where you were prepared to play or did you sort of have to scramble and fly out to Pinehurst?

“My plans to come out here were set. It was just a matter if guys in various tournaments were going to earn enough points to jump their world ranking into the top 60 at the weekend so not enough guys did and those spots that were empty went to the alternates.”

 As an amateur how do you approach being in a setting such as this? 

“It’s pretty incredible to be out here with all these guys you see on TV and see it all in person. But for me, it got pretty real just teeing up on my first practice round. You’re in now and you have nothing to lose but you don’t want to come here and put your tail between your legs. You want to compete and do the best you can. It’s a hard golf course and it’s not going to play easy.”

Who have you been around and interacting with, what kind of big name golfers, and how cool of an experience has that been for you?

“I played eighteen yesterday with Jim Furyk and he was awesome. He talked to me the whole round and was just super supportive. Today I played with Bill Haas and Brandt Snedeker for eighteen and they both were awesome guys. Bill and I talked about some certain shots around the greens and what the right play to hit and what club to take and lines to take. Just certain outcomes. Bill couldn’t have been a better guy. Snedeker played really well today, his game looks really good.”

Your coach Casey Martin has obviously played in a few US Opens. Any piece of advice he’s given you this week?

“Yeah. He’s said this throughout my time at Oregon, ‘you don’t have to be perfect, be steady and not force anything because when you start forcing things and letting your emotions take over and being emotional basically, you make bad decisions.’ If you play your game, you’re likely to have a better chance at succeeding.”

Are you proud to represent the state of Montana?

I’ve receive a ridiculous amount of support from my friends, family and people I don’t even know in Montana. So many texts and phone calls just wishing me luck and that they are happy that I can represent the state. I take pride in that. I’m happy I can represent Montana in a good way.

Have you had time to think about this run you’ve been on?

“I’ve definitely thought about it. From Stanford on, everywhere we’ve played are world class golf courses. It’s prepared me for this course. Like Casey has told me, ‘you’ve played at a lot of difficult golf courses and Pinhurst is going to be tough, but you’ve been prepared and don’t be intimidated by it.’ The run of golf I’ve had is like something I’ve never experienced before.”

Follow Justin Wise on Twitter @JWISE25

Oregon’s Brandon McIver to play in US Open at Pinehurst

After shooting a bogey,double-bogey on the 14th and 15th holes on the final day of the US Open sectional qualifying at the Emerald Valley Golf Course in Eugene, Brandon McIver’s hopes of playing in the US Open at Pinehurst, N.C. seemed to be dashed. He finished just one stroke shy of an automatic bid at the tournament’s end and was the first alternate coming out of Eugene and the third alternate overall.

However, McIver’s luck quickly changed after receiving a phone call Sunday from the United States Golf Association, notifying him that he would be playing at the Pinehurst Resort and Country Club for the 114th installation of the US Open. T

“I was just ecstatic,” McIver told Goducks.com. 

The Billings, Mont. native will become the first active Oregon golfer under Casey Martin to play in the US Open and is also the first, current or former Duck, to play in the open since Ben Crane did it in 2012.

The junior earned this opportunity after only one player from the PGA Tour and European Tour received an exemption to play at the tournament by virtue of the latest world rankings. He will be in good company as well, with Stanford’s Cameron Wilson, the 2014 NCAA Men’s Golf Medalist, joining him.

Not only that, McIver is paired with Maverick McNealy of Stanford and Smylie Kaufman, a recent graduate of LSU who was at the NCAA Championships with both McIver and Nealy. The group is scheduled to tee off on Thursday, June 12, at 5:46 a.m. (PDT).

Van Williams, a native of North Carolina and a first year assistant as Oregon’s golf coach, will be in Pinehurst with the McIver along with Jake Hedge, who will serve as his caddie.

Evidently so, McIver will be in a different realm than he is used to as the this week’s practice rounds begin. Playing in one of the major tournaments on the PGA Tour, McIver, along with 11 other amateurs, will be in a field full of the best golfers in the world.

“We’re just thrilled and excited for Brandon,” head coach Casey Martin said to Goducks.com. “It’s an incredible opportunity, a once in a lifetime opportunity. Regardless of how he does, he’ll become a better golfer having competed in the U.S. Open.”

Follow Justin Wise on Twitter @JWISE25

Oregon golfer Brandon McIver gets major advantage at U.S. Open qualifier

Because so much of the game of golf is about routine, every little detail counts. From the way a golfer starts his or her morning to the way he or she sets his or her stance in the tee box, even the slightest variable could have an impact on his or her performance. This routine is amplified when the golfer is unfamiliar with the golf course.

Sophomore golfer Brandon McIver will have many of those variables taken out of the equation when he takes to the course for the U.S. Open Sectional Qualifier on Monday at the local Emerald Valley Golf Club. The familiar turf will give him a major leg up on the rest of the field — Emerald Valley is Oregon’s practice facility.

When McIver shot a four-under 68 to finish in a tie for second in the local qualifying round last month, he knew what would come next.

“I was just happy that I was able to make it to the second round,” McIver said. “Because I knew it was at Emerald Valley where we play so often.”

Those looking for evidence of the effects of home-course advantage don’t need to look further than Oregon’s performance at the NCAA West Regional held at the Eugene Country Club last month. The Ducks were the surprise of the tournament as they finished second, just one stroke behind No. 2 Stanford. McIver shot a five-over 215 to finish in a tie for eighth overall at the event.

“Seeing that I get to sleep in my own bed and go through my own routine without having to overcome any variables are huge advantages,” McIver said.

Back in 2012, Oregon head coach Casey Martin qualified for the Open at the same course and cited home-cooking as a big part of his success.

“A couple of years ago I hadn’t really been playing much and I had a wing-it kind of feeling,” Martin said. “There wasn’t a lot of pressure and fortunately I played really well. The advantage I had, and Brandon has as well, is that we’re playing a golf course we know really well.”

McIver learned to play alongside his grandfather.

“His normal foursome on a Saturday morning was three World War II veterans and a 10 year-old boy,” Bob McIver, Brandon’s father said. “I think that’s how he learned how to respect the game, and every four-letter word you don’t want a 10 year-old kid to know.”

When McIver takes the course Monday he’ll be golfing, once again, with veterans of the game of golf as the field features both amateurs and professionals alike. Despite the challenging competition, Martin thinks McIver has more than an outside shot at advancing.

“He hit the ball beautifully back at the national championship and if he hits it like that on a golf course that he knows like the back of his hand, I wouldn’t put it past him to qualify,” Martin said. “It’s going to be difficult, but he can do it.”

Follow Josh Schlichter on Twitter @joshschlichter

Oregon men’s golf misses cut at NCAA Championships

It was too little too late for the Oregon’s men’s golf team at the NCAA Championship Monday.

Oregon carded a field-leading nine-under third round in a last ditch effort to make the eight-team cut, but finished in 14th place at 12-over overall.

Throughout the holiday weekend, Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kansas was pounded with thunderstorms and heavy rain, causing numerous delays to the 36-team field.

No. 3 Stanford was one team that wasn’t fazed by the inclement weather. The Cardinal ran away with the preliminary rounds, shooting 13-under to take the number one seed in match play starting Tuesday.

The Cardinal were led by the world’s second-ranked amateur golfer Cameron Wilson at the top of the leaderboard.

Wilson watched his three-stroke lead on Georgia Tech’s Ollie Schniederjans disappear in the second round, but he played even par for nearly the entire third round before birdying on the 17th hole to take the lead with one hole to go. Wilson put himself in prime position to win the individual title with a green-in-two, but missed his par putt on 18 to finish the round tied with Schniederjans at two-over.

With things tied up in first place, the duo embarked on a two-man playoff to decide the individual title.

Both golfers had their chances to lock up the title in the first two holes but missed birdie putts to prolong the playoff.

On the third playoff hole, the par five No. 17 hole, Schniederjans’ tee shot landed well left of the fairway in dense rough. He quickly went into damage control and whacked a low shot back into the middle of the fairway before hitting the ball into the center of the green on his third shot. Schniderjans missed a difficult birdie putt to finish the hole at even par.

Meanwhile, Wilson calmly chipped up to the green to set up a manageable birdie putt. With the pressure on, Wilson sank the putt to take the individual title.

UCLA and South Carolina also provided some late drama as the Bruins climbed over the Gamecocks into the top eight in the final three holes. Nearly every Bruin nailed difficult high-pressure putts to secure their spot in match play.

Oregon’s Zach Foushee was one of the bigger surprises of the tournament, shooting two-under and five-under in the first and third rounds respectively, but a poor six-over second round cost Foushee a chance at competing for the individual title. Foushee finished in a 10-way-tie for 19th place having climbed up from 75th overall entering the final round.

Foushee wasn’t the only Duck to struggle in the second round. Both Foushee and Jonathan Woo shot six-over while Thomas Lim’s five-over and Sulman Raza’s four-over left Oregon on the outside looking in during the final round.

Brandon McIver finished second on Oregon’s scorecard, scoring three-over. Lim and Raza shot six-over and nine-over respectively.

While the team’s season is officially over, McIver and Ryann Ree will have a shot to end their seasons on a high note on June 2 at the Emerald Valley Golf Course in Creswell, Oregon for the U.S. Open sectional qualifying round.

Follow Josh Schlichter on Twitter @joshschlichter