Toni Hakula

Postseason for men’s golf begins at Big 12 Championships

The regular season is over for the Longhorns, and, from this point on, all roads lead to Kansas, the site of the 2014 NCAA Men’s Golf Championships. First on the agenda for Texas, though, is this weekend’s Big 12 Championship at Whispering Pines Golf Club in Trinity.

Texas heads into the weekend as the reigning Big 12 champion after it beat Oklahoma State by a 4-stroke margin in 2013. Freshmen Beau Hossler and Gavin Hall take on their first collegiate championship in Trinity this weekend, but, if the regular season is any evidence, the two youngest golfers are ready for the challenge. 

Hossler, especially, demonstrates this preparation, coming off his first top-five finish ever two weeks ago in Santa Cruz, Calif., where he lead the Longhorns to their eighth-place finish. Senior Toni Hakula and junior Kramer Hickok return to the championship looking to stretch their Big 12 streak to two years, but the team’s veterans aren’t letting the postseason pressure dictate anything for them. 

“I don’t feel like there’s any kind of extra pressure on my shoulders,” Hakula said. “Obviously, I want to do great and I want to finish strong in my college career, but I know that putting too much pressure on myself is just [going to] hurt myself and the team.”

Gaining the No. 3 seed, the Longhorns’ fifth conference title is not going to be a simple stroll to the 18th hole, with tough such competition as No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 2 Oklahoma State gunning for the same prize. 

“We know it’s [going to] be a tough test,” Hakula said. 

Texas isn’t looking back anymore, though. That time has passed, and winning is the only objective left; an objective that, according to Hakula, is within their grasp. 

“That’s our only target — to go out there and win this week,” Hakula said. “And I feel like we can do it for sure.”

—James Grandberry

Men’s tennis earns No. 2 seed for Big 12 Championship

The regular season of the Big 12 Conference has come to an end, but the Longhorns are not finished competing. Saturday will mark the beginning of the Big 12 Men’s Tennis Championship in Fort Worth.

Just last week Texas defeated Texas Tech 5-1, sealing the Big 12 regular season title, along with Baylor and Oklahoma.

Texas has only lost two of its last 13 matches, bringing the team to an No. 7 ITA ranking. The team has been in the national top-10 in nine of the last 10 ITA polls. 

In addition to their ranking, the Longhorns have earned the No. 2 seed in the Big 12 Championship.

“All the guys are excited about the opportunity this weekend and we are looking to carry the momentum from the regular season into the conference tournament and come away with another Big 12 title,” junior Jacoby Lewis said.

—Brianna Holt

Women's golf takes momentum going into Big 12 Championship

Texas will host the 18th annual Big 12 Championship this weekend at the University of Texas Golf Club with first tee set for Friday morning.

Currently at the peak of their season, the Longhorns are poised to make a strong showing this weekend, coming off of two consecutive top-10 finishes against ranked opponents at the SDSU Farms Invitational and the PING/ASU Invitational.

The team, made up of consistent season starters junior Bertine Strauss, sophomore Natalie Karcher, freshman Julia Beck, sophomore Tezira Abe and freshman Laura Weinstein, will face a tough lineup of strong Big 12 teams. Texas is the sixth seed, with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Iowa State rounding out the top three.

Following the top three, who will kick off the action Friday at 8 a.m., Texas tees off at 8:50 alongside No. 4 Baylor and No. 5 Kansas. No. 7 TCU, No. 8 Texas Tech and No. 9 Kansas will follow at 9:40 a.m.

—Caroline Hall

Longhorn women’s tennis enter Big 12 tournament with momentum

After a back-and-forth regular season, the Longhorns head into the Big 12 Tournament this weekend as the No. 3 seed when they meet sixth-seeded TCU.

Texas (11-11, 6-3 Big 12) may be heading into the tournament with two consecutive conference losses, but the team has a couple of reasons to be confident that it will be a factor in the tournament.

First, they have won the last two Big 12 Championships as either the third or fourth seed. Also, their losses to Oklahoma State and Baylor could have gone either way with both matches ending in a 4-3 decision. A rematch against either or both teams in the tournament might also be close.

The Horned Frogs, who defeated Texas 5-2 in the conference opener, stand in the way of the Longhorns advancing past the quarterfinals. This match between Texas and TCU was also close, as the Longhorns had an opportunity to win the doubles point.

Texas and TCU will begin play Friday in Fort Worth at 3 p.m.

—Chris Caraveo

Marielle Hall’s top-10 all-time performance highlights track and field’s trip to Stanford Invitational

The Longhorn women continued their rampage through the record books this weekend at the Stanford Invitational in Stanford, Calif.

Senior distance runner Marielle Hall led the charge for No. 3 Texas, solidifying her position among the top runners in the nation. The senior completed the 5,000-meter in 15 minutes, 19.26 seconds, good for first in her field of 26 athletes, including 14 professionals. Hall’s time set a UT record and ranks 10th all-time for collegiate 5,000-meter performances. Only three women have topped the time in the past five years.

Senior middle distance runner Katie Hoaldridge rounded out a strong performance for the Texas senior class with an 800-meter time of 2:07.13, less than a half-second away from her personal best. Hoaldridge’s time placed eighth in a field of 77 runners.

Hall and Hoaldridge’s times lie within the range of qualifying for the NCAA West Preliminary Round meet, which serves as the qualifier for the NCAA Outdoor Championships.

The No. 18 men also logged some impressive distance performances in Stanford.

Sophomore distance runner David Anamosa won his 800-meter section and was the only Longhorn man to compete on Saturday. His time of 1:51.13 placed him 16th overall in a group of 83 runners.

Redshirt freshman Nate Moore ran the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 8:57.20, a time that last year qualified for the NCAA West Preliminary Round. The top 48 times and marks in the West Region earn automatic berths to the preliminary round meet, which serves as a qualifier for the NCAA Outdoor Championships.

Junior distance runner Mark Pinales put himself in qualifying position with his career-best time of 29:23.26 in the 10,000 meters. The time placed him 14th in his section of 35 runners.

The Longhorns will return to competition on Saturday with the single-day Texas Invitational, the second of three home meets this season.

Texas men’s golf falls just short of first in Georgia

Texas left Augusta, Ga., this weekend with its third runner-up finish of the season, led by senior Toni Hakula and junior Kramer Hickok, to complete the 3M Augusta Invitational one stroke behind first-place University of Central Florida.

Hakula and Hickok were the only two Longhorns to break into the top 10, as Hakula secured a fourth-place tie and Hickok tied for eighth place. Hakula ended the final round only three strokes behind individual champion Greg Eason of UCF, who carded an 11-under weekend to bring his team the win. Eason was one of three UCF golfers who accomplished single-digit finishes.

Freshman Beau Hossler nearly joined Hakula and Hickok in the top 10, but fell just two strokes short to finish in a tie for 12th place at 2-under. Freshman Gavin Hall and redshirt sophomore Will Griffin carded 3-over and 9-over to come home with ties for 30th and 60th, respectively.

Texas will compete in its last regular season tournament Friday in Santa Cruz, Calif. 

Women’s golf finishes PING/ASU Invitational in top 10

The Longhorns pulled off another strong showing this weekend at the PING/ASU Invitational, recording their second consecutive top-10 finish. Competing on the Karsten Golf Course in Tempe, Ariz. against 14 teams — 12 of which were nationally ranked — Texas recorded a 19-over-par 883 to finish in ninth place.

Sophomore Natalie Karcher paved the way for the team in Friday’s first round, firing 1-under 71 to tie for 12th place on the individual leaderboard. Karcher’s performance put the team in ninth place overall to finish the day.

Saturday’s second round featured more of a group effort, with the team collectively scoring its best single-round score of the spring season, a 4-over-par 292. Texas maintained its position on the scoreboard at ninth place.

The team remained consistent during the final round Sunday, finishing its final regular season tournament in the top 10. Texas’ next competition will be the Big 12 Championship, which it will host from April 25-27.

Men’s tennis beats TCU on Senior Day

The No. 6 Longhorns completed their final season at the Penick-Allison Tennis Center on Saturday with a 7-0 victory against TCU. The team sent the arena out on a good note, securing an undefeated 9-0 season at the center. Texas’ last undefeated home regular season was in 2010.

“It means a lot to go undefeated at home, especially since it is the final year of this facility,” head coach Michael Center said. “This is one of the more storied tennis facilities in the nation.”

Following the match, the team honored seniors Sudanwa Sitaram and David Holiner in celebration of Senior Day.

“I’m going to miss this group of guys and mostly the family-like atmosphere that UT gives off,” Holiner said.

Saturday marked the team’s second victory of the season against TCU, to tally eight straight against the Horned Frogs. The Longhorns have won 11 of their last 12 matches and are currently riding a six-match winning streak. 

The team will continue conference play against No. 7 Baylor on April 16 in Waco.

Longhorn women’s tennis downs Kansas and Kansas State

The Longhorns continued their dominance over Kansas State and Kansas this weekend to lift their record above .500 for the first time in two months.

No. 25 Texas (10-9, 5-1 Big 12) defeated the Wildcats 7-0 on Saturday, which extended its all-time win streak against the team to 23-0. The win marked the team’s third consecutive shutout, the first time it has done that since 2010. The team snapped that streak Sunday but maintained its sweep of the teams from the Sunflower State. A 6-1 victory against Kansas extended the Longhorns’ undefeated history against the Jayhawks to 26-0.

Freshman Pippa Horn and senior Juliana Gajic clinched the doubles point, which set Texas up for singles competition success.

After beginning Big 12 play 0-2, senior Elizabeth Begley has rebounded with four consecutive wins. Begley gave up only four games this weekend, winning 6-0, 6-1 Saturday and 6-1, 6-2 Sunday.

Freshman Ratnika Batra and sophomore Breaunna Addison improved to 6-0 in conference singles play. Addison defeated Kansas State’s No. 56 Petra Niedermayerova 6-3, 6-2 for her second collegiate
win over the Wildcat.

The Longhorns will wrap up the conference season with three home matches.

Photo Credit: UT Athletics | Daily Texan Staff

When senior Toni Hakula began his career at Texas in the fall of 2010, he was just a kid from Espoo, Finland, trying to adjust to life in America.

“It was different, the whole culture change and trying to live by myself here,” Hakula said. “It definitely took a toll the first year.”

Now, more than three years later, Hakula is in the beginning of what is his final season at Texas — a fact that he said is hard to believe. But as the only remaining player from the championship run just two years ago and the only true senior on the team, the time has come for Hakula to fully assert himself as the leader. 

“He’s got tremendous ability,” head coach John Fields said. “He is extremely intelligent … he leads by example and is a fabulous person.”

In his career at Texas, Hakula has appeared in 34 tournaments, playing 104 rounds of amateur competition. He has an average score of 73.31 and has finished in the 60s nine times, with 36 par or better performances. 

More than his game value though, Fields said it is Hakula’s experience that makes him a true asset to the No. 3 ranked team in the nation. He said the fact that Hakula was a part of the Longhorns’ 2012 championship gives him the type of pedigree and leadership that can be passed down to the rest of his team.  

And if Hakula were to help lead the Longhorns to another championship, there is no question his footprint would be cemented in the history of notable Texas players. Behind him stands the support of teammates like Brax McCarthy, who said Hakula knows what it takes to play team golf at the highest collegiate level.

“He is a hard working guy,” McCarthy said. “He is always out there practicing, playing and just leading by example.”

Hakula’s senior season is important for many reasons. Among one is the impact it will have in determining what kind of future he will have beyond Texas. Hakula said he plans on pursuing golf on the professional level, starting on the Tour or European Tour and eventually the PGA Tour. It is a goal both his teammates and coach believe he is more than capable of accomplishing.

“He’s got that ability and that opportunity,” Fields said. “Absolutely I expect to see him on both [the European Tour and PGA Tour].”

For now, Hakula said he is solely focused on winning a championship and improving from last season, where he felt he left a lot out on the course. Passing the torch to his younger sister and women’s player, freshman Anne Hakula, will also be a task the senior golfer will embark on. After all, he said, it is only right to keep the Hakula name alive in Texas golf.

“I’m looking forward to having her this year,” Hakula said. “I’ll be coming back now and then to watch her progress the next few years.”

Currently playing at the Jerry Pate Intercollegiate in Vastavia Hills, Ala., the Longhorns are in third place after Monday’s first two rounds of competition, finishing with a four-over-par 564 overall score. Hakula notched a two-under-par 68 in first round and a four-over-par 74 in the second round. He will tee off at 9:10 a.m. in Tuesday’s final round as he and the rest of the team hope to catch Alabama and Texas A&M, who currently hold the top two spots.

“It is about taking it one day at a time and one shot at a time,” Hakula said. “As long as everyone does that, it is going to be good for the
whole team.”

Led by Senior Toni Hakula’s six-over-par 216 overall score, the No. 3 Longhorns left Chicago on Sunday with a second place team finish at the OFCC/Fighting Illini Invitational.

After scoring a two-under-par 68 in the tournament’s first round on Friday, Hakula fell off on Saturday, ending the day with a seven-over-par 79. The former all-Big 12 golfer recovered, however, and signed for a one-under-par 69 score in the tournament’s final round, ending his roller-coaster weekend tied as the ninth best player in the field.

The Longhorns were able to reach the No. 2 spot in Saturday’s second round due in part to freshman Beau Hossler and Gavin Hall’s pair of one-over-par 71s. And on the tournament’s last day, the two helped Texas secure second by stringing together the team’s second and third best scores of the day, Hossler with a two-over-par 72 and Hall a three-over-par 73. Overall, Texas ended its second tournament of the season 18 strokes off of first-place Alabama’s nine-over-par 849 score in the 15-team field.

Led by senior Toni Hakula’s 6-over-par 216 overall tournament score, the No. 3 Longhorns left Chicago, Ill., on Sunday with a second place team finish at the OFCC/Fighting Illini Invitational.

After posting a 2-under-par 68 in the tournament’s first round on Friday, Hakula fell off on Saturday and ended the day with a 7-over-par 79. The former All-Big 12 member recovered, though, and signed for a 1-under-par 69 in the tournament’s final round, ending his roller coaster weekend in a tie for ninth.

The Longhorns were able to reach the No. 2 spot in Saturday’s second round with freshman Beau Hossler and Gavin Hall’s pair of 1-over-par 71s. And in the tournament’s last day, the two helped Texas secure its finish by stringing together the team’s second and third best scores of the day, Hossler with a 2-over-par 72 and Hall a 3-over-par 73. 

Overall, Texas ended its second tournament of the season 18 strokes off first-place Alabama’s 9-over-par, 849 score in the 15-team field. 

Taking an early look at TexasÂ’ 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 Texas Longhorns men’s golf team saw its win streak end on Sunday, as it took a share of second place at the Aggie Invitational in Bryan Texas over the weekend.

No. 1 Texas, winner of its previous three events, failed to find a consistent rhythm throughout the event without its top player, freshman Jordan Spieth, who was taking place in the PGA Tour Valero Texas Open through a sponsor exemption. The Longhorns finished in a tie with host Texas A&M for a distant second place by shooting a 40-over-1120, 11 shots back of first place Oregon, who shot a 29-over-1109.

The course was likely the most difficult of the year for the Longhorns, and sophomore Toni Hakula believed that the weather conditions made things even tougher.

“It was a tough weekend,” Hakula said. “The pins were tucked, the wind was blowing yesterday, and the greens have been pretty firm so you can’t stop the ball. Once you started attacking these pins, if you missed the greens at all, you would be in a tough position to make par.

Hakula faired better than most in the event, as he led the Longhorns by shooting a 2-over-218, good for third place among individual golfers. Junior Julio Vegas claimed tenth place among individuals, recording a score of 223 (+7). Texas was the only team other than Oregon to have multiple players place in the Top 10.

Senior Dylan Frittelli had his roughest performance of the season, finishing in a tie for 29th with a score of 14-over-230. He was able to improve his place in the standings considerably after shooting a 70 on the final day after recording scores of 79 and 81 in the first two rounds.

The Longhorns will now travel to Whispering Pines in Trinity, Texas next weekend to take part in the Big 12 Championship. All things considered, Texas enters the tournament in good shape after finishing the Aggie Invitational in second place without Spieth, the top ranked player in college golf.

Men's Golf

There was no squeaking into the next stage of postseason play this time.

The Longhorns were not able to mount a comeback in the final round of the NCAA Championship and failed to qualify for the match play portion of the tournament. The Longhorns stayed near the middle of the pack most of the tournament, and finished in 12th place at 31-over for the tournament, thus ending their season in Oklahoma City at Karsten Creek Golf Club.

It was an up-and-down year for Texas, marked by playing the toughest schedule in all of college golf, according to Golfweek magazine. The arduous task of competing with the nation’s top teams week in and week out finally seemed to take a toll on the Longhorns.

Junior Dylan Frittelli did his best to keep the team in the hunt for the top eight, but his even-par day was too little, too late. Frittelli scattered three birdies over his final round, and finished at four-over, tied for No. 20 individually.

Freshman Toni Hakula had been playing far beyond his age would suggest, recording a pair of one-over rounds in the first two days of the event. However, his youth got the better of him after he shot a disappointing seven-over in the final round. His lone bright spot on the day came at the 18th hole, when he eagled the 551-yard par five. Needless to say, his score could have been much worse had it not been for such an amazing finish to the round. Hakula finished the tournament at nine-over, tied for No.56 individually.

Sophomore Cody Gribble also tied for No. 56 at nine-over after the final round. After shooting five-over in the second round, Gribble improved in Thursday’s final round, recording five birdies and finishing the round at one-over.

After rounds of four- and six-over in the first two rounds, sophomore Julio Vegas also showed signs of improvement with a three-over final round. Vegas finished at No. 88 with a score of 13-over for the tournament, a far cry from what he is capable of on the golf course.

Maybe the biggest disappointment, in terms of performance, was senior Bobby Hudson. Once a nominee for the Ben Hogan Award, college golf’s version of the Heisman, Hudson struggled mightily down the stretch. With a 14-over for the tournament, Hudson laid claim to the team’s highest score. He finished in a tie for No. 94 individually.

On the bright side, the Longhorns will only lose two players in the offseason, as Bobby Hudson and Chris Causey will have exhausted their eligibility. With a young, experienced core still intact, Texas will surely be among the top teams to watch next year. The returning experience, plus the arrival of the nation’s top amateurs, Dallas Jesuit’s Jordan Spieth, means that the best is yet to come for this team.

Sports Briefly

The roster of the 2011 All-Big 12 team was released Tuesday, and a trio of Longhorns received honors. Senior Bobby Hudson, junior Dylan Frittelli and freshman Toni Hakula were among 11 student-athletes recognized by the conference.

Hudson was honored for the third time in his career after posting three top-10 finishes this season. His best finish came at the Amer Ari Invitational in which he tied for first.

Frittelli, last year’s golfer of the year, was once again commended by the conference. He currently leads the Longhorns with a 72.97 stroke average, and most recently competed in his third Big 12 Championship, where he finished in 11th place.

Hakula becomes the fifth overall and second consecutive Longhorn to win the conference’s newcomer of the year award.

The NCAA announces its selections for the NCAA regional championships on May 9. The six NCAA regional championship events begin May 19.

Men's Golf

The Longhorns are comfortably seated at sixth on the leaderboard after day two of the Puerto Rico Classic. This position among the field seems to fit right into Texas’ plan. The Longhorns have made a habit this season of slowly creeping up the leaderboards as an event nears its conclusion. The Longhorns have done it again, moving up five places since the first round. In every tournament they have competed in, the Longhorns have improved their position after every round. Texas, which is one-over for the tournament, trails leader Georgia Tech by 15 strokes. Heavy favorite and conference rival Oklahoma State sits at third, six strokes off the lead.

Round one on Sunday was not so kind to Texas, with freshman Toni Hakula recording the only under-par round for the Longhorns at one-under. Texas got back on track Monday with senior Bobby Hudson, junior Dylan Frittelli and sophomore Cody Gribble all shooting one-under for the day.

Hogan Award watch list addition Bobby Hudson rebounded from his forgettable first round, which saw him finish the day at eight-over and two spots from the bottom of the individual leaderboard.

After his one-over first round, Gribble had three birdies over to finish the day tied for 15th on the individual leaderboard.

Adam Wennerstrom and Hakula are both two-over for the tournament and tied for 30th on the individual leaderboard.