Championship Sidebar: Gutting It Out
June 6, 2010
By Bucky Dent
Special to NCAA.com
OOLTEWAH, Tenn. -- Taylor Floyd said that if he could play any character in a movie, he'd opt for Bruce Wayne in "Batman."
One could say that Floyd's performance Saturday and Sunday at the NCAA Division I men's golf championships was worthy of a superhero.
Playing despite a stomach bug which left him weak, Floyd still won his semifinal match against Florida State and was dead-even at No. 17 Sunday when the match was halted after the Jaguars clinched the national title.
Coach Josh Gregory wasn't sure Floyd would even make it to the first tee for his match with Oklahoma State's Trent Whitekiller Sunday morning.
"He told me that there was no way he would miss it for the world," Gregory said. "For him to be able to play and fight it and finish his match yesterday and today is somewhat unreal."
Not only did Floyd finish, he played effectively. He led Whitekiller, who was as hot as any Cowboy this week, for most of the match and was all-square with an eagle putt for the lead at 17 when Augusta State cinched the team victory.
Floyd said he wasn't as sick Sunday, although he required a 10-minute break to visit the rest room after dropping the 14th hole to go 1-down.
"Knowing that it was for the national championship," he said, "just made me feel a little better."
OSU coach Mike McGraw paid tribute to Floyd's gritty performance.
"Taylor Floyd is an amazing story, pulling an IV out of his arm," McGraw said.
Tournament officials made a concession to Floyd's health, moving his match from the second starting time of 9:39 back to the last spot of 10:06 to give him a little more time to recover.
Slow Start: The Cowboys raced to a quick lead in Saturday's semifinal win over Oregon, chipping in three times in the first two holes. But they couldn't make any kind of statement in the championship match.
"If I understood why it happened, we wouldn't have had it," McGraw said with a wry grin. "I'm not really sure why it happened. We had one match going our way and everything else was the wrong way. We were behind the 8-ball all day."
The defeat denied OSU its 11th national title and was the second straight year it lost in match play after taking the top seed out of stroke play. It was upset in last year's quarterfinals by Georgia.
Next year, the Cowboys figure to have an ally in their quest for a national championship.
They'll host the tournament at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater.
"I hope to see a little orange in the gallery," McGraw said. "Hopefully, we're going to have the kind of team that can do a good job hosting it."
No Change: Augusta State's Gregory has said repeatedly this week that he wants his team to play with a chip on their shoulder, saying they were players other schools didn't want.
With a national championship in his pocket now, can he keep use that to fuel the motivational fire?
"Sure I can, and I will," he said with a smile. "But I think we've proved we're one of the big boys now."