Senior Bertine Strauss found a home away from home with Texas golf. The characteristics she has gained from being far from home have helped her anchor the team for four years.
Photo Credit: Joe Capraro | Daily Texan Staff

For senior women’s golfer Bertine Strauss, the 9,000-mile plane ride home to Koster, South Africa, takes almost a full day. But the experiences she has gained from being so far from from home have only helped her lead Texas through the past three seasons.

“Being so far away from home forces you to be independent, go out of your comfort zone and try new things,” Strauss said.

Strauss takes all of these lessons to heart — and to the golf course, where she has continued to push herself to new heights and anchor the team. So far this season, Strauss has achieved a career-low 66 (-6) at the Schooner Fall Classic, where she also set a school record for the lowest three-round total, a 3-under 207.

In addition to playing well as an individual, Strauss has set the tone for the team this season. Of the seven tournaments the Longhorns have competed in, Strauss has been the low player five times. Off the course, she has been a leader in the clubhouse.

“This year, I’ve been leading by example,” Strauss said. “There are no freshmen on the team this year, so everyone is taken care of, and there’s no disruption.”

Despite her accomplishments this season, Strauss still thinks she can get better.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Strauss said. “In golf, you play against yourself and the course, and there’s always room for improvement.” 

Her improvement over her four years here at the University is easy to see. She has set new career lows every season while earning numerous accolades.

Strauss was named a 2014 Arthur Ashe, Jr. Sports Scholar and was on the Academic All-Big 12 First Team in both 2013 and 2014.

But these accomplishments are nothing in comparison to the valuable lessons and experiences she has learned while being away from home.

“It’s a luxury to be able to go home,” Strauss said. “I appreciate what UT has given me. It’s easy to see how well the University treats its athletes, and I’m thankful, especially considering what it’s like back in South Africa.”

The independence and motivation Strauss gained from her worldly perspective have also encouraged her to pursue other goals after she graduates in May. Come August, she plans on attempting to make the LPGA tour.

Before then, however, Strauss looks to finish the season strong. The Longhorns’ next tournament is the Texas-Hawaii Classic on March 21 at the Kapalua G. C. Bay Course in Kapalua, Hawaii.

“I’m definitely looking forward to Hawaii,” Strauss said. “Especially after last week, when I came in strong and was in contention the entire tournament.”

Senior Dylan Frittelli holds the record for individual awards won in the Big 12 conference. Frittelli is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation.

Photo Credit: Derek Stout | Daily Texan Staff

Domination of his competitors is nothing new for senior golfer Dylan Frittelli. Growing up in South Africa, he quickly climbed the rankings of the top individual golfers in the nation.

From age 16 to 18, Frittelli was the No. 1 junior golfer in South Africa, and he was the top amateur golfer in the country from age 17 to 18. In 2007, he won the Callaway Junior World Championship at Torrey Pines in San Diego, and the next year he won the 2008 South African Boys’ Championship.

This high level of success did not cease for Frittelli once he joined the Longhorns. As a freshman, he was able to record his first career collegiate victory in the Puerto Rico Classic, and he tallied the best score among Longhorns in the Big 12 Championships.

He improved as a sophomore in 2010, when he recorded eight top-10 finishes, led the team in stroke average and was named Big 12 Conference Player of the Year. In addition to conference accolades, Frittelli received PING All-American (third team) and Golfweek All-American (third team) honors in just his second season at Texas.

Last season, he once again led the team in stroke average and received All-Big 12 and PING All-American (third team) honors for a consecutive year.

However, Frittelli may be having his best season to date as a senior in 2011-12, as no golfer has played a bigger role in the Longhorns’ No. 1 NCAA ranking.

The recently named Ben Hogan Award semifinalist and No. 1 player in the nation has been the Longhorns’ most consistent player. He has finished among the top two individual golfers in five tournaments this season, including a first-place finish in the Morris Williams Intercollegiate in Austin.

While his strong scores have helped the Longhorns on the scorecard, Frittelli’s biggest contribution may be the calming presence he brings with his consistency.

“I think [my consistency] has just settled down the other players,” Frittelli said. “If they know I’ll finish in the top 10, they don’t have to worry as much about playing well and can focus [on themselves].”

Head coach John Fields has also been impressed with Frittelli’s leadership, and he believes the senior has been a strong example for his teammates this season.

“He’s a real stabilizing force because he’s mature, experienced and extremely competitive,” Fields said. “He takes care of business, works diligently in school and golf and stays away from distractions. He’s a fine leader.”

Likewise, the rest of the Texas golfers have nothing but respect for Frittelli. Junior Cody Gribble, who is Frittelli’s roommate on road trips, considers the senior as a role model on the team for his actions on and off the golf course.

“He’s been playing extremely well, and off the course everyone looks up to him,” Gribble said. “Over the last couple of years he’s come into his own, and all of us have a lot of respect.”

The Longhorns have maintained the top ranking in collegiate golf for much of the season, and that is due in large part to the contributions of Frittelli. Texas is in the best position to win the national championship this year as it has been in the senior’s tenure, and he has stepped up as a leader for the Longhorns.

Following this season, Frittelli will turn his attention to the PGA Tour, where he will look to start a career in golf and continue his success at the highest level.

“I’ll be turning pro sometime later this year, go to Tour school and by August I hope to be pro,” Frittelli said. “Traveling around playing golf is my dream job.”


Men's Golf

The Longhorns are in somewhat unfamiliar territory after the first day of the Puerto Rico Invite, as Texas sits tied for fourth place after one round of play.

No. 1 Texas, winner of its past four events, matched par with a score of 288 to tie Virginia Tech. Alabama shot a 276 (-12) to claim first place after day one with Clemson shooting a 283 (-5) and Oklahoma shooting a 284 (-4) for second and third place, respectively.

The Longhorns are without freshman Jordan Spieth, the top-ranked collegiate golfer, as he is coming off of competing in a PGA Tour event this past week.

Senior Dylan Fritelli, the NCAA’s second ranked golfer, led the Longhorns after one round with a score of 70 (-2), tying him for sixth place on the individual leaderboard.

Sophomore Toni Hakula tied for 17th place after shooting a 71 (-1), with junior Cody Gribble (73, +1), junior Julio Vegas (74, +2) and freshman Kramer Hickok (75, +3) being the others to compete for the Longhorns. Alabama’s Justin Thomas led all scorers with a five-under-67.

Texas is looking to win its fifth consecutive tournament and second of the spring season, but after one day it has some catching up to do. The Longhorns have two more days to close the gap and extend their win streak to five.

The collegiate golf season is only about a month old, but the Longhorns are already playing at mid-season form. Behind two straight tournament victories and exceptional rounds from freshman Jordan Spieth, Texas is now the nation’s top-ranked team.

Spieth, a Dallas native, is not your average college freshman. He has already claimed two U.S. Amateur Championship titles, one in 2009 when he was 16 and the other just this year. The only other golfer ever to achieve this feat is Tiger Woods. Spieth hasn’t reached Tiger’s level of play just yet, but if he keeps playing the way he has this year, he’s not too far off. Spieth has also participated in the last two HP Byron Nelson Championships held in Dallas. He tied for 16th in 2010 and even missed his high school prom to tie for 32nd in this year’s event. Now that’s dedication. Amateurs are not allowed to collect any earnings in tournaments, so Spieth gained only experience by playing with PGA Tour professionals.

In the Longhorns’ most recent tournament, the Jack Nicklaus Invitational, Spieth paced the Longhorns with rounds of 73-66-72 and finished tied for second on the individual leaderboard. Spieth has been getting out to fast starts in each of the club’s first three tournaments this year. His first-round average of 69 ranks No. 20 in the nation and is a big reason Texas has won consecutive tournaments for the first time since 2006.

There’s no doubt that he’s a special player, but he is still growing. That’s evidenced by how he finished the Jack Nicklaus Invitational. He was not able to capitalize on his low round of 66 and close out the rest of the field. His last round average of 74 ranks much lower in the nation at 1,183rd.

“Jordan’s finish was bittersweet,” said head coach John Fields. “These last two tournaments have been contested at championship-caliber courses that are set up for tough finishes. There have been some tremendously difficult finishing holes. But Jordan is a team player and is focused on the same goal as his teammates — winning tournaments.”

Spieth is currently ranked 12th in the nation individually and is one of three Longhorns ranked in the top-50 nationally. Senior Dylan Frittelli has not finished lower than seventh in an event this year and sits at No. 3 in the nation while redshirt junior Julio Vegas is ranked 39th.

We could be witnessing the best golfer to come through Austin since the likes of Ben Crenshaw and Justin Leonard, who have both gone on to make a pretty comfortable living on the PGA Tour. Spieth still has a lot to learn, but he’s well on his way to becoming one of the nation’s top golfers.

Printed on Thursday, October 13, 2011 as: Spieth helps Horns earn top ranking after strong start