Beau Hossler could hardly swing a club.
Leading two-up in his semifinal match over University of Southern California’s Andrew Levitt, the Texas junior just needed to tie the 17th hole at Eugene Country Club to give the Longhorns a third and clinching point to send them to the national championship match versus Oregon.
But Hossler had hurt his left shoulder and was in noticeable pain. His approach shot on 17 landed in a greenside bunker, and he needed to get up-and-down for par to clinch. Unwilling to try another swing, Hossler passed on playing the shot with a wedge.
“[Hossler] said, ‘I’m going to putt that, I can’t make a swing here,’” head coach John Fields, who walked with Hossler in the closing holes of his match, told the Golf Channel.
Hossler’s ball settled on the fringe, 30 feet behind the hole, and he drained the par putt. But there was hardly any celebration, even though Texas will take on Oregon for the title Thursday. Texas’ leader and star player’s status seemed jeopardized.
“Obviously I didn’t want to hurt myself, but at the same time this is the national championship,” Hossler told the Golf Channel. “This was the goal I had the first day I stepped on campus at Texas — to win a national championship with my team. Sometimes you have to sacrifice a little bit to do that.”
Fields said Hossler told him he felt his left shoulder “popped out” after his second shot on the par-5 15th hole. Hossler didn’t appear to be in any pain and ended up winning the hole. But the tee shot on the par-3 16th hole was a different story.
Hossler immediately dropped his club after striking the ball and grimaced in pain. He then chipped in for birdie to increase his lead in the match to two-up.
But Fields said the tee shot and approach shot on the 17th hole were even more painful for Hossler, who was evaluated by a medical staff in the middle of the 17th fairway.
“I got to believe that even if I tried to pull him off, I don’t know that he would’ve come off,” Fields told the Golf Channel. “He was obviously in a really tough spot, and it was significant enough where the pain was overwhelming.”
Had Hossler not been able to complete his match, USC and Texas would have been tied at two points, with the Longhorns needing sophomore Scottie Scheffler to close out his match on the 18th hole. “We were praying that Scottie was going to finish off that match, and then that putt went in from 30 feet,” Fields told the Golf Channel. “I think the good Lord won us out of here today.”
USC’s Rico Hoey defeated redshirt sophomore Taylor Funk to put the Trojans on the board early with one point. But then sophomore Doug Ghim and junior Gavin Hall each closed out their matches to give Texas two points, needing just one to advance. Fortunately for Texas, it never came down to Scheffler’s match as Hossler gutted out the victory.
To even get to the Trojans, the Longhorns needed to get past the Sooners in the quarterfinals on Tuesday morning. Texas dominated rival Oklahoma, winning four of five points, easily advancing to USC.
For now, Hossler’s status for Wednesday is uncertain, but he says he hopes to be able to play. With or without him, Fields said the Longhorns will be ready.
“Life is full of challenges. Life is full of difficult circumstances,” Fields told the Golf Channel. “We’re not going to fold our tent, I promise you. We will not fold our tent. We’ll be out there playing hard [Wednesday].”