BRADENTON, Fla. - The field is set and the final 15 teams remaining in the DI Men’s Golf Championship teed off after the conclusion of Sunday’s rain shortened Round 3.
Charlotte, Oregon and Oklahoma State played their way out of the Top 15, allowing South Carolina to sneak back in to Day 4. SMU teed off against Washington in a one-hole playoff on the 18th hole, coming out victorious and rounding out the Top 15.
“Each of the guys had to take care of their own rounds,” Head Coach John Fields said of his team’s impressive play. “They needed to collectively take care of their own business. They did that today, which was great. That’s not to say they hadn’t been doing that, they’re just getting more and more comfortable on this golf course. It was a little bit of a learning curve and we are starting to get more comfortable here.”
Sophomore Beau Hossler — the No. 8 golfer in the field — had a big day, shooting in the 60s and finishing 3-under par. But it was the play of the lone senior on this young squad that really paced the Longhorns all round.
“He was great,” Coach Fields said of his Kramer Hickok’s important Day 3 performance. “Having him out there and getting under par and staying under par for a significant time was big. When we had to come off the golf course to be able to sleep on being 4-under, and coming back and posting a round in the 60s was absolutely awesome. We needed it.”
Being the go to man on a day with so much importance could mount up to a lot of pressure. That’s where the Longhorns were at an advantage of the senior leadership of Hickok.
“Yes, there is a little extra pressure,” Hickok said of getting off to a fast start and getting under par. “I felt comfortable though. I made a few swing changes and I was really hitting it well. I was just trying to stay patient. I have been in this position before as a senior, it’s more of an experience factor that I have been able to draw on and use to an advantage.”
Texas started the third round on the back nine. Throughout the course of the week, the 10th hole has been a burden to many of the young golfers at The Concession. On Day 3, Hickok was able to get the best of the troublesome hole.
“The 10 tee is a hole that kind of gets me, we don’t really see eye to eye,” Hickok said of his fast start. “I was able to get a really good tee shot and get that out of the way, which made me feel more comfortable and confident. I had the confidence in my swing and I was putting and chipping well. When I picked up a few birdies I was able to keep it rolling.”
It was a combined team effort on Day 3. Hossler and Hickok led the way with 69s, but Doug Ghim was able to get 2-under, while Scottie Scheffler finished even on the round.
“These guys on our team are so good,” Hickok said of his teammates, “that there’s a lot less pressure because I know I can depend on them to put up low numbers.”
Scheffler has been walking around the course the past few days with his thumb in ice. The freshman suffered a bizarre injury at Regionals, but seems to be putting it behind him.
“He’s got a thumb issue,” Fields explained. “Oddly enough, at the Regional he got a sticker in his left thumb and nobody could get it out. There is some pain there, but he’s managing it and it isn’t effecting him.”
Now, just a mere two hours after completing their biggest round of the tournament thus far, the Longhorns are set to tee off for Day 4. By the end of the day, 8 teams will remain. There is no time to be watching the scoreboard today, as the Longhorns need to take care of business.
“Everyone is different,” Hickok said. “I don’t like to pay attention to the scores. I don’t like to focus on it unless I need to -- if I need to go after a pin, or if I need to get birdie. You can get caught up in a lot of stuff that you don’t need to and all you can do is control your game. I can’t control what anyone else does, so I want to just go out there and put up the best number I can and benefit the team that way.”