Brandon Stone

At the beginning of the summer, freshman Brandon Stone announced his intention to forgo his three remaining years of eligibility for a professional golfing career. Stone is the second golfer in many years to leave Texas as an underclassman, following in the footsteps of former Longhorn Jordan Spieth who turned pro in 2012 after only one season.


For the Men’s Golf Freshman of the Year, the allure of a professional contract was likely too much to pass up. In addition, Spieth hinted that winning a national championship as a freshman left him with no more challenges. Though this has become a recent trend for men’s golf, the Texas men’s basketball program is all too familiar with the one-and-done phenomenon. For example, Kevin Durant only spent one season at Texas before seeking “greener” pastures in the NBA.

 

With Stone’s early departure from Texas, it is becoming clear that the typically one-and-done athletes aren’t exclusively basketball players anymore.
 

Before Durant, superstars often went directly to the NBA before a rule change prevented 18-year-olds from signing professional contracts, effectively changing the face of college basketball.
 

Talented players now go to college for a year at least before cashing in with the NBA. Myck Kabongo became the most recent player to leave Texas early. Even though he is not a “one-and-done” athlete, he did leave for the NBA with two years of eligibility.
“It’s been my dream for a while and I felt like I was ready,” Durant said in 2007. “I had to take the opportunity. I love the game and I thought it was time.”
For both basketball and football, the importance of being drafted high is key in the decision of whether to go pro or not, as draft order is coupled with certain guaranteed salary minimums.
 

“I just don’t want to be a player in the NBA; I want to have an impact,” Durant said. “That was one of the big decisions too.”
 

Draft stock is a major factor that affects athletes who contemplate giving up college eligibility. Currently, analysts cite former USC quarterback Matt Barkley as a reason to pay attention to draft stock. Barkley was projected as a top-10 selection after his junior season but after a disappointing senior year, he fell to the fourth round, losing potentially millions of what could have been a first-round contract the year before.
 

Money is a huge motivating factor. Former Longhorn J’Covan Brown left for the NBA because he wanted to be able to financially support his family.
 

Currently, there is a rule that prevents the one-and-done trend from affecting college football — athletes must be three-years removed from high school before declaring for the NFL draft. While athletes have the opportunity to leave after their junior season for the NFL, athletes often complete most, if not all, of their college eligibility in order to increase their draft stock.
 

Current Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel may be paving the way for potential college football “one-and-dones” and has contemplated leaving the Aggies after only two years. 
 

“If an opportunity comes to go to the NFL, you have to look at that,” Manziel told ESPN.
 

Many analysts admit that while young athletes would benefit the NFL, they are not physically ready to go up against other athletes. High school seniors are no match for players like Baltimore’s Ray Lewis, a linebacker with a 240-pound frame.
 

Baseball seems to be the only major sport that has developed a system that works for most players. Athletes can be drafted directly after high school but are given the option of signing with an MLB team or going to college. If they decide to go to college, then they must stay through three years or be 21 to declare for the draft.
 

Even swimming has become a potential source of athletes who choose to leave with eligibility remaining, Former Longhorn Kathleen Hersey left with two years of eligibility remaining in order to train with Texas men’s coach Eddie Reese and Longhorn Aquatics.
 

Money and the chance to compete at a higher level has created and developed the culture of forfeiting college eligibility for a professional contract. An NFL agent confirmed this with Sporting News earlier this year.
 

“The days of players coming back for the love of the game or winning a national championship are over,” the agent said.

Freshman golfer Brandon Stone announces decision to leave Texas

After only a season at Texas, South African golf phenom Brandon Stone announced his decision to turn pro this past Wednesday.

The All-American freshman led the Longhorns to their first conference title since 2004, and finished tied for second at the NCAA Championships. Stone also finished ranked second according to the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings and takes with him a number of achievements after his departure from the Longhorns. After becoming both the Big 12 Newcomer and Player of the Year, Stone was also named the Phil Mickelson Freshman of the Year.

Stone chose to follow fellow South African golfers Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Branden Grace, Trevor Immelman and Richard Sterne by signing with IMG for exclusive worldwide representation and he also signed with golf sponsors PING and Titleist/Footjoy. Stone will make his initial  professional appearance later on this month at the BMW International Open.

Stone is the second first-year player in as many years to leave the program after one year. Former Longhorn Jordan Spieth turned pro last year after leading the Longhorns to an NCAA National Championship.

Despite shooting an 8-over-par 288 in the final round, the Longhorns won their first Big 12 Championship since 2004 on Wednesday.

“Anytime a golf tournament says ‘championship,’ it’s a big deal,” head coach John Fields said. “And the Big 12 Championship, for the University of Texas and our athletic department is a very big deal. We don’t take it lightly.”

The Longhorns came into the final day of competition with only a six-shot lead over Oklahoma State. But the Cowboys had troubles of their own, shooting a 6-over-286 in the final round.

Because of inclement weather, the tournament was shortened from four to three rounds. On Monday, rain caused an hour-long rain delay during the first round and forced six teams to finish their second rounds Wednesday.

Freshman Brandon Stone took home the individual championship , edging Oklahoma State’s Talor Gooch by three strokes with an even-par 210 during the week. His second round score of a 3-under-67 was tied for the lowest individual round score of the tournament. Senior Cody Gribble finished the tournament in a tie for third, five shots off of Stone’s pace with a 5-over-215. Sophomore Kramer Hickok finished tied for tenth with an 8-over-218.

Texas had a rough start to the tournament after shooting a 10-over-290 in the first round. In the second round, however, the Longhorns took over the lead with a 1-over-281 and were one of the few teams to finish their second round on Monday.

The Big XII championship is Texas’ first since 2004, which was the end of three straight conference championships. In those seasons, however, the Longhorns finished no higher than tied for third in the NCAA Championship. Despite winning the national championship last season, Texas finished in second the Big 12 Championship behind Texas A&M.

Texas will compete next in the NCAA Regional Championship May 16-18 at a site to be determined. If the Longhorns advance, they will look to defend their national championship at Capital City Club in Atlanta, Georgia May 28 through June 2.

The Longhorns started off the Big 12 Championship tournament with a shaky first round, but finished the second round with a six shot lead over Oklahoma State on Monday afternoon.

Texas began the tournament struggling with a 10-over 290 in the first round, which at the time was five shots behind Oklahoma State, who shot a 5-over 285 in the first round. Play was suspended for one hour during the round due to the weather.

The second round was much more kind to the Longhorns. Texas came back in the afternoon to shoot a 1-over 281 and took the lead away from Oklahoma State, who fell back with a 12-over 292 in the second round. TCU finished the second round in third place with an 18-over 578 through two rounds.

Freshman Brandon Stone is in the lead for the individual title. After shooting an even 70 in the morning, Stone finished the day with a 3-under 137 heading into the clubhouse. Senior Cody Gribble is currently in sixth, six shots behind Stone with a 3-over 143.

Texas will begin the third round Tuesday morning.

Longhorns Look to Continue Success in Las Vegas

Two weeks after capturing their second victory of the season, the Longhorns will take to the course once again this weekend in the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters in Las Vegas. Freshman Brandon Stone will also look to follow up his second win of the season with a strong performance.

Wednesday afternoon, Stone was named Big 12 Men’s Golfer of the Month for February. In the two tournaments in the month, Stone led the Longhorns with a 69.2 stroke average. At the time, Stone was ranked as the top men’s golf player in the Golfweek rankings; however, the latest rankings place him in second. As a team, the Longhorns are ranked in second as well, behind California.

Senior Cody Gribble is the next highest Longhorn in the rankings, currently sitting at 27th. Junior Toni Hakula is the final Longhorn ranked in the top 50 in 48th.

The Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters is considered as one of the best collegiate tournaments in the country. Along with Texas, top-ranked California, defending tournament champions UNLV and nine other top fifteen teams will compete for the title. Last year, the Longhorns finished in sixth place with a 27-over 891 in the tournament.

Two weeks after capturing their second victory of the season, the Longhorns will take to the course once again this weekend in the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters in Las Vegas. Freshman Brandon Stone will also look to follow up his second win of the season with a strong performance.

On Wednesday afternoon, Stone was named Big 12 Men’s Golfer of the Month for February. In the two tournaments in the month, Stone led the Longhorns with a 69.2 stroke average. At the time, Stone was ranked as the top men’s golf player in the Golfweek rankings. However, the latest rankings place him at No. 2. As a team, the Longhorns are ranked No. 2 as well, behind California.

Senior Cody Gribble is the next highest Longhorn in the rankings, currently sitting at No. 27. Junior Toni Hakula is the final Longhorn ranked in the top 50 at No. 48.

The Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters is considered one of the best collegiate tournaments in the country. Along with Texas, top-ranked California, defending tournament champions UNLV and nine other top 15 teams will compete for the title. Last year, the Longhorns finished in sixth place with a 27-over 891 in the tournament.

Men's Golf

The Longhorns used a 17-under par 274 in the second round Saturday to help secure a first place finish in the Bayou City Collegiate Championship in Humble, Texas. Freshman Brandon Stone took home the individual championship with a 9-under 207.

Texas took the early lead after the first round, leading Baylor by one with a 3-under 285. However, it was in the second round where the Longhorns made their move. Heading into the clubhouse after the second round, the Longhorns had a 13 shot lead over the Bears.

In the final round, the Longhorns were only one of two teams to shoot an under par score, ending the final round 5-under par and winning the tournament with a 22-under 842, 21 shots ahead of second-place Houston.

Stone was tied for 16th after the first round, but strong second and third rounds, including a 5-under 67 in the final round, helped him take the individual title.

Senior Julio Vegas finished second with a 6-under 210 and junior Toni Hakula ended the tournament tied for third with a 5-under 211.

The win is the first for the Longhorns since the Carpet Capital Collegiate to open the season. Texas will compete next in the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters March 8-10.

A combined even par on the final day of competition proved costly as the Longhorns fell to a fourth-place finish in the Amer Ari Invitational in Kona, Hawaii. Individually, senior Cody Gribble and freshman Brandon Stone finished tied for fourth.

Texas was unable to maintain the solid start on Wednesday when they shot a combined 279 (-9), putting them in third for the time being. The Longhorns were able to maintain their standing with a 283 (-5) on Thursday, but a 288 (E) Friday dropped them into a tie for fourth along with Georgia Tech and the Universisy of Southern California.

Going into Friday, Gribble had a share of the lead at seven-under, but was only able to muster a one-under 71 on Friday. Stone shot a two-under 70, dropping him from third to fourth.

The University of California at Los Angeles and Washington shared the team title with both teams shooting a 22-under 842 over the three days. Dominic Bozzelli of Auburn took the individual title.

Texas senior Julio Vegas, who started the day tied for ninth, finished tied for 42 after a six-over 78 on the final day.

The Longhorns’ next competition will be the Bayou City Collegiate Championship in Humble on Feb. 22-24.

The Longhorns used six birdies over the final two holes to finish in third place in the first round of the Amer Ari Invitational on Wednesday in Kona, Hawaii. Birdies by senior Cody Gribble and juniors Toni Hakula and Brax McCarthy at the end of their rounds helped Texas finish with a 9-under 279.

Both Gribble and freshman Brandon Stone shot a 3-under 69, placing them at a tie for 10th individually so far. Hakula finished one stroke behind them with a 2-under 70 and is tied for 14th.

Stone got off to a fast start to the tournament with a birdie on the second hole and an eagle on the fourth. His round after that point was quiet, tallying another birdie and an eagle.

Gribble, on the other hand, had a steadier round. After making par on the first three holes, Gribble birdied the fourth hole before a bogey on the sixth. He birdied the ninth and the 17th and 18th to end his day.

TCU and UCLA finished the first round tied for the lead, each shooting an 11-under 277. TCU’s Daniel Jennevret’s 5-under 67 put him first individually.

Texas, the defending national champion, will begin its second round Thursday at 11:30 a.m.

Flurry of birdies puts Longhorns at third after first day of Amer Ari

The Longhorns used six birdies over the final two holes to finish in third place in the first round of the Amer Ari Invitational on Wednesday in Kona, Hawaii. Birdies by senior Cody Gribble and juniors Toni Hakula and Brax McCarthy at the end of their rounds helped Texas finish with a 9-under 279.

Both Gribble and freshman Brandon Stone shot a 3-under 69, placing them at a tie for 10th individually so far. Hakula finished one stroke behind them with a 2-under 70 and is tied
for 14th.

Stone got off to a fast start to the tournament with a birdie on the second hole and an eagle on the fourth. His round after that point was quiet, tallying another birdie and an eagle.

Gribble, on the other hand, had a steadier round. After making par on the first three holes, Gribble birdied the fourth hole before a bogey on the sixth. He birdied the ninth and the 17th and 18th to end his day.

TCU and UCLA finished the first round tied for the lead, each shooting an 11-under 277. TCU’s Daniel Jennevret’s 5-under 67 put him first individually.

Texas, the defending national champion, will begin its second round Thursday at 11:30 a.m.