Cody Gribble

Topping a national championship from the year before can be tough, but last week the Longhorns accomplished something the team from last year didn’t: win a Big 12 title.

But now the Longhorns are looking to turn that momentum from the conference championship into another NCAA national championship run.

“We’ve won our last three tournaments and we’ve got a lot of momentum,” senior Cody Gribble said. “We still have a lot of work to do.”

The 2013 version of the Longhorns is different from the team that won the national championship last season. Dylan Frittelli graduated last spring and Jordan Spieth turned pro back in December. Head coach John Fields said the team this season is using that as motivation.

“There’s a challenge to them and no matter what we say, they’re going to take that challenge on,” Fields said. 

Last year’s team ended the regular season with seven wins, compared to four for this year’s team. The Longhorns headed into the NCAA Championship last season as the favorites to win it, but this year are sitting behind Alabama and California.

Even with the underdog title, Gribble said he doesn’t know if that benefits the team.

“We know that we can beat them,” Gribble said. “Seven times out of 10, they might have their day, but if we play to our capabilities, we can beat any team out there.”

Texas’ Big 12 Championship title last week was the team’s first conference title since 2004, the last of three straight titles for the Longhorns. Despite delays for weather, the Longhorns came out with a four-stroke win and freshman Brandon Stone took home the individual title.

Stone said the team title means more to him that the individual title.

“At the end of the day, people at Texas remember the team and not the individuals,” Stone said.

Gribble, who finished tied for third at five over, said winning the Big 12 tournament was a big goal for him and fellow senior Julio Vegas.

“Winning nationals was great, but the Big 12 is something that you can keep and in this region it’s just as big. It’s something we’re never going to forget.”

The Longhorns will begin their NCAA run at the Regional Championship May 16-18 at a site to be determined. Gribble said this team still feels like it can get a second national title.

“When we get there, we’re going to go down swinging,” Gribble said.

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.

Senior Cody Gribble ended the second round of the Amer Ari Invitational with a share of the individual lead Thursday with a 7-under 137 through two rounds. As a team, the Longhorns stayed in third, ending the day at a 12-under 562.

Gribble’s day got off to a rough start with bogeys on his second and sixth holes. Despite missing out on the outright lead, he recorded a team-high six birdies in the round.

Freshman Brandon Stone, who began the day tied with Gribble in 10th, recorded his second eagle in as many days on his 11th hole, but two bogeys kept him from the lead. Stone is currently in third with a 6-under 138 through two rounds.

Junior Julio Vegas, who is competing as an individual in the tournament, moved up to a tie for ninth with a 5-under 67.

Texas collectively shot a 5-under in the second round and trails Washington, who shot a 13-under. The Huskies are shooting a 21-under 555 in the tournament.

The Longhorns will tee off the final round at 11:30 a.m. Friday.

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.

Taking an early look at Texas’ golf team

If you have never been out to Steiner Ranch to see the Longhorns play a round of golf, next year may be the perfect time to catch what is sure to be a talented team on the links. In fact, it may prove to be one of the best teams Texas has ever fielded. Here’s a look at the projected starters for next year’s men’s golf team.

Dylan Frittelli (Pretoria, South Africa) — One of five seniors, Frittelli has shown over the years that he is the real deal. Has two tournament victories in his collegiate career, was named the 2010 Big 12 Player of the Year and is the top-ranked South African amateur. Expect Frittelli to lead this team with his strong play and experience.

Julio Vegas (Maturin, Venezuela) — The junior came on the scene with a bang late last year, proving he deserves a spot among the starters. After redshirting his first year, Vegas also sat out his second year with the team. A powerful player at 24 years old, he also brings experience to the table. He owns two Venezuelan National Junior Championships and is also the younger brother of Jhonattan Vegas, a former Longhorn and current PGA Tour golfer. He isn’t the most consistent player, but Vegas should turn things around in a big way. The talent is undoubtedly there, so it’s more of an issue of harnessing it properly.

Toni Hakula (Espoo, Finland) — The third of the Longhorns’ international players, this sophomore is ready for his chance at the spotlight. The 2011 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year has already played in several professional events as an amateur and even finished as runner-up twice in two events in Denmark. He plays beyond his years in terms of skill and overall confidence on the course, and was integral in Texas’ success a year ago after being used as a starter more often near the end of the season. Look for Hakula to establish himself among the nation’s best young golfers.

Cody Gribble (Highland Park, Texas) — Gribble, a junior, enjoyed a rather fruitful amateur career before he came to Texas, but has yet to display his full ability as a Longhorn. As a freshman he showed flashes of brilliance with second- and third-place finishes to his name, but as a sophomore failed to finish better than 20th in any event. After a number of victories and accolades in high school, Gribble obviously has the talent to be successful. He just needs to find his stroke again.

Jordan Spieth (Dallas, Texas) — The newly crowned top amateur nationwide, Spieth will bring a highly refined golf game to Austin. The freshman has already played with the big boys on the PGA Tour, finishing as high as 16th place in the 2010 HP Byron Nelson Championship. It’s not likely a player of his caliber would redshirt, as head coach John Fields doesn’t have much to teach this guy. If you like watching exceptional players on the course, Spieth is a sight to see. He is skilled in every aspect of the game, and could be the missing piece to the puzzle for a Longhorn golf championship.

Frittelli, Vegas and Hakula are just about locks to start in every tournament for the Longhorns. Having spent most of last season in the starting rotation, they should do the same in the upcoming campaign. Gribble has a fair shot at starting, but the team’s other four seniors could find their way into starting roles as well. Seniors Alex Moon, Steffan Schmieding, Brett Spencer and Adam Wennerstrom have all filled in sparingly in their time as Longhorns, and are capable of carding low rounds with consistency. Junior Johnathan Schnitzer may also vie for a starting spot, as his game began to improve late last season.

Along with the arrival of Spieth, two more freshman will be welcomed to the team in the fall. Kramer Hickok of Plano and Lake Travis’ Tayler Termeer round out an impressive freshman class for the Longhorns. Don’t expect much out of Hickok and Termeer just yet, as talent runs deep with this team.

Whoever the Longhorns plan to use in a given event, rest assured they will be the best-suited player to do so. There is an immense amount of talent and experience on the team, and it should prove to be an exciting and possibly very successful season.

The men’s golf team poses with their trophy in front of the tower Saturday night. The tower was lit in honor of their NCAA Championship win.

Photo Credit: Marisa Vasquez | Daily Texan Staff

Players, coaches, family, friends and fans alike gathered in front of Littlefield Fountain Saturday night to light the tower orange in commemoration of the men’s golf team winning the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship for the first time since back-to-back victories in 1971 and 1972.

“It’s great, it’s what we’ve worked on since we started playing golf this year, and it’s pretty exciting. It’s not only for us, it’s for these people right here — we’re pretty blessed to have the people around us and we thank them for the support,” junior Julio Vegas said.

“It’s something that words cannot describe,” junior Cody Gribble said. “We did it, we finally did it! After 40 years the satisfaction is above and beyond.”

The tower was lit in the traditional, proud Texas burnt orange with the number one at the heart of the tower on all four sides. This is tradition whenever an athletic team wins a national championship. Aside from Saturday, the last time the tower commemorated a sports victory was 2010, when the Texas men’s swimming and diving team won the championship.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet. It’s something that’s gonna stay with us for the rest of our lives. It’s an amazing feeling — the adrenaline rushing when we knew it was going to be a reality when Dylan made that putt,” freshman Jordan Speith said.

“It’s hard to put into words,” head coach John Fields said. “Every one of us is extremely appreciative and proud to be from Texas and represent Texas. It’s wonderful, it’s what you dream of — it’s absolutely wonderful.”

The Longhorns saw themselves down 2-0 after the first two pairings before rallying to win three straight matches in the championship round of the NCAA tournament.

Texas’ first win came from Gribble, who sank a birdie on 17 over Alabama junior Scott Strohmeyer.

A match-up between two of the best amateurs nationwide, Speith and Alabama freshman Justin Thomas followed Gribble’s win, with Speith leading the whole day and taking a 3-hole lead by 15. This tied the match at 2-2 before heading to the final pairing between Texas senior All-American Dylan Frittelli and Alabama sophomore Corey Whitsett.

The match was tied after 17, and with Whitsett in position for a possible bogey on the 18th hole, Frittelli only need a two-putt to win.

Instead, he sank a stunning 30-foot putt to erase all hope the Crimson Tide had of winning, giving Texas its first men’s golf championship in 40 years.

“It was a dream come true,” Frittelli said Saturday evening after the tower was lit. “You couldn’t have scripted it any better. I made a 30-footer on the final green, and was engulfed by my teammates. It was an amazing occurrence and something that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

Men's golf

So far, in two 15-team tournaments this season, the No. 8 UT men’s golf team has finished in the fifth and sixth spots. The Longhorns look to build upon that strong start as they travel to Columbus, Ohio to compete in the Jack Nicklaus Invitational at Scioto Country Club, Oct. 11-12.

Nicklaus, widely regarded as the best golfer of all time, learned to play at Scioto, which gives the trip to Columbus the feel of one-part golf tournament, other-part field trip to one of the more important and historical golf courses in America.

“The course is the home of Jack Nicklaus,” said head coach John Fields. “We have not played there, but we know it’s a great, old golf course. We’re looking forward to playing in this tournament, and it has another great field of teams.”

In another competitive field, Texas will have to fight No. 2 Oklahoma State, No. 3 LSU, and No. 7 Illinois.

Texas’ best hopes rest on its trifecta of stars: senior Bobby Hudson, junior Dylan Frittelli and sophomore Cody Gribble. All have had bright moments this year, as each have finished in the top-15 individually at one of the two tournaments. Gribble, the youngest of the group, has earned praise from his coach.

“Gribble jumps out there as the leader of our team this week because he was our low man at [the previous tournament at] Karsten Creek,” Fields said. “He came back with a pair of 70s in the final round, and if you haven’t played there, you may not understand how extraordinary that is. That is great golf.”

So far, in two 15-team tournaments this season, the No. 8 UT men’s golf team has finished in the fifth and sixth spots. The Longhorns look to build upon that strong start as they travel to Columbus, Ohio to compete in the Jack Nicklaus Invitational at Scioto Country Club, Oct. 11-12.

Nicklaus, widely regarded as the best golfer of all time, learned to play at Scioto, which gives the trip to Columbus the feel of one-part golf tournament, other-part field trip to one of the more important and historical golf courses in America.

“The course is the home of Jack Nicklaus,” said head coach John Fields. “We have not played there, but we know it’s a great, old golf course. We’re looking forward to playing in this tournament, and it has another great field of teams.”

In another competitive field, Texas will have to fight No. 2 Oklahoma State, No. 3 LSU, and No. 7 Illinois.

Texas’ best hopes rest on its trifecta of stars: senior Bobby Hudson, junior Dylan Frittelli and sophomore Cody Gribble. All have had bright moments this year, as each have finished in the top-15 individually at one of the two tournaments. Gribble, the youngest of the group, has earned praise from his coach.

“Gribble jumps out there as the leader of our team this week because he was our low man at [the previous tournament at] Karsten Creek,” Fields said. “He came back with a pair of 70s in the final round, and if you haven’t played there, you may not understand how extraordinary that is. That is great golf.”