Men’s golf hopes to ride Big 12 momentum into NCAA Championship

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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.