May 30, 2009

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) -- Texas A&M's Bronson Burgoon hit a 125-yard gap wedge from the rough to within three inches of the 18th hole Saturday to win his match and clinch the first NCAA Division I men's golf title for the Aggies.

Burgoon, a senior and the team's No. 1 player, had lost the previous four holes to Arkansas' Andrew Landry before his dramatic shot from the deep rough far to the right of the 18th fairway at Inverness Golf Club. Golfweek magazine called it “one of the best shots in college golf history.”

 “Our assistant coach (Jonathan Dismuke) told me to hit it at this rail, and it just kept feeding right down to the hole,” Burgoon said. “Right when it cleared the hill, I knew it was going to go down pretty close to the hole.”

Landry conceded the tap-in for birdie, then missed a 35-footer that would have sent the match to extra holes. A&M won, 3 and 2.

“I was struggling the last four holes,” Burgoon said. “I put more pressure on myself than I should have. The last hole something happened for me and seemed to click. I couldn’t have drawn it up any better. I love this team. That was the hardest thing when it was slipping away. I was more discouraged for the guys on the team than for myself. To finish off my senior year with a national championship is incredible. I couldn’t be happier.”

John Hurley and Andrea Pavan won their matches for the Aggies, who had never finished better than fourth, in 1982, despite having qualified for the national tournament 24 times. It was A&M’s first NCAA title in any sport since the softball team won in 1987.

Jamie Marshall and Jason Cuthbertson won matches for the Razorbacks, who also were chasing their first title.

With the match all square heading to the 18th, Landry drove into the middle of the fairway. Burgoon, as he did most of the back nine, drove far to the right into deep rough just above three deep pot bunkers on a hill bordering the edge of the fairway.

Landry spun a wedge just onto the green, the ball coming to rest on the first cut.

Burgoon walked up to take a look at the pin placement with Dismuke and sized up the shot. He muscled the gap wedge to the right-middle of the green, and the ball slowly rolled left toward the hole. As it rolled ever closer, a crescendo of cheers rose from the crowd.

His teammates jumped for joy and shouted as Landry conceded the birdie putt. Landry measured his lengthy birdie putt with his coach before rolling it left of the hole. Before it stopped rolling, the Aggies were jumping atop each other and slapping high-fives in celebration.

“Bronson dominated his matches and played great golf all week,” A&M Head Coach J.T. Higgins said. “He told me earlier this week that he wanted to be on 18 with a chance to win the national championships coming up the last fairway. What a way to come through. That’s all I said to him on 18. I wouldn’t rather have anybody else playing this hole than you right now even after losing four straight. I knew he was a clutch performer. I knew he’d come through and he did. I’m so proud of him.”

Pavan dominated from the start in beating David Lingmerth, 7 and 6. Hurley also posted a quick win, beating Ethan Tracy, 6 and 4.

But then things tightened up when Arkansas' Marshall defeated Conrad Shindler, 3 and 2. Cuthbertson took a 3-and-1 victory over Matt Van Zandt, who was the star of A&M's 3½-1½ victory over Michigan in the semifinals.

Burgoon seemed to be in command of his match. He led 2-up at the turn and built his advantage to 4-up through 13 holes.

Landry began playing near-perfect golf and Burgoon seemed to find trouble off almost every tee.

Burgoon hit into a bunker on an adjoining fairway and made bogey at 14, with Landry two-putting for par to cut his lead to 3-up. Burgoon had to hit from the rough on his second shot at the 15th and pulled his approach into more of the thick stuff. He shouted, "Oh, my gosh!" as the ball left his club face. Again Landry two-putted for a par to win the hole, cutting his deficit to two holes.

The gallery grew as the other matches ended. By the time the two players moved to the 16th green, there were several hundred fans traipsing along after the twosome, shouting encouragement and ringing the greens.

Landry used two putts from 40 feet for par at 16 and Burgoon barely missed his par putt from 25 feet. Now his lead was just 1-up.

At 17, Burgoon hit through the fairway and had an awkward stance, chopping the ball to just short of the green. But he chipped the ball 10 feet past the pin. Again Landry hit the green in regulation and made a routine par. Again Burgoon missed the par putt, forcing a showdown on the final hole.

The match-play showdown lived up to the expectations of the college coaches, who had voted in the new format for the 2009 championship at Inverness Club.

Rather than have strictly medal play, this was the first time that the 30 teams and six individual qualifiers played 54 holes of stroke play to determine the medalist and the eight teams that would move on to match play.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

2009 NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships

Championship Match

No. 7 Texas A&M 3, No. 4 Arkansas 2

No. 5 Jamie Marshall (Ark.) def. No. 5 Conrad Shindler (Texas A&M), 3 & 2 No. 4 Jason Cuthbertson (Ark.) def. No. 4 Matt Van Zandt (Texas A&M), 3 & 1 No. 3 John Hurley (Texas A&M) def. No. 3 Ethan Tracy (Ark.), 6 & 4 No. 2 Andrea Pavan (Texas A&M) def. No. 2 David Lingmerth (Ark.), 7 & 6 No. 1 Bronson Burgoon (Texas A&M) def. No. 1 Andrew Landry (Ark.), 1 up

QUOTES

Texas A&M Head Coach J.T. Higgins
"The last four or five holes was pretty stressful but actually I wasn’t  feeling it until the last one. I kept figuring that by the last one Bronson was going to win one of them. He saved the best for last. What can you say. That was fantastic. What a great tournament."

"I came up and looked at the green and the pin and I said this is the exact same pin as the final round when we watched Georgia make three birdies right here, playing it off this hill and rolling right down it. Anything to the right is going to funnel right to the hole and assistant coach Jonathan Dismuke picked the right club for him and he hit a great shot."

(on Landry)
"What a gutsy performance by him and the whole Arkansas team. Those guys were awesome, so disciplined and such a great golf team. Brad’s a great coach and they’re a great team."

(on what winning the national title means)
"A lot goes through my mind. It’s been a long road. When we started here eight years ago we were a long way from being national champs. It was a long process to get great players like Bronson, John, Andrea, Conrad and Matt. Just putting together a  team that has a chance to compete. I was really just happy for the kids. I love them, they’re like my own."

(on Burgoon)
"He dominated his matches and played great golf all week. It’s funny, he talked to me about it earlier this week that he wanted to be on 18 with a chance to win the national championships coming up the last fairway. What a way to come through. That’s all I said to him on 18. I wouldn’t rather have anybody else playing this hole than you right now even after losing four straight. I knew he was a clutch performer. I knew he’d come through and he did. I’m so proud of him."
"When he lost the 14th hole it was no big deal, even 15. I thought he could probably get 16 using a 3 wood wedge. He pulled the 3 wood a little bit and had a horrendous fly over there. He couldn’t get it to the green and then the next thing you know the momentum had shifted."

Texas A&M Senior Bronson Burgoon
"After it started rolling I was like please go in. I was struggling the last four holes. I put more pressure on myself than I should have.  The last hole something happened for me and seemed to click."

"It was 125 yards and I hit a gap wedge. I hit it full. Just a punch. Our assistant coach told me to hit it at this rail and it just kept feeding right down to the hole. Right when it cleared the hill I knew it was going to go down pretty close to the hole."

" I couldn’t have drawn it up any better. I love the team. They battled their butts off all day and I just tried bringing it up. That was the hardest thing when it was slipping away. I was more discouraged for the guys on the team than for myself."

(on this match topping the Oklahoma State-Georgia match)
"I sure think so. I wasn’t there to watch it but I don’t see how it could get much better than this."

"This is great. To finish off my senior year with a national championship is incredible. I couldn’t be happier."

Arkansas Head Coach Brad McMakin
"Andrew (Landry) made a run at the end and Bronson (Burgoon) hit a great shot. That’s what golf is and these kids will remember it for the rest of their life."

"Andrew came up a little bit short and he was being a little cautious because he didn’t know what the lie was like over there. He pulled off the best shot of the tournament. Hats off to him. I’m sure proud of our guys and they did a great job all week. Hopefully Andrew can someday get his on the last hole."

Arkansas Senior Andrew Landry
"I’m just really pumped up how it came down to the final hole. I just knew I had to dig down a little bit to come back. I felt I could get this whole match back to square and I did. He just hit a great shot and there is nothing I can do about that."

"Bronson (Burgoon) is a great player. I have played with Bronson quite a bit. He can do stuff like that to you. I figured he hit a great shot when the crowd started yelling and I knew I had to make a putt."

"It was a great experience. The gallery was awesome and whenever you hit a great shot and people start screaming and yelling. It was fun."

Final Results:
Andrea Pavan, A&M, def. David Lingmerth, Arkansas, 7 and 6
John Hurley, A&M, def. Ethan Tracy, Arkansas, 6 and 4
Bronson Burgoon, A&M, def. Andrew Landry, Arkansas, 1 up
Jason Cuthbertson, Arkansas, def. Matt Van Zandt, A&M, 3 and 1
Jamie Marshall, Arkansas, def. Conrad Shindler, A&M, 3 and 2