Raza gives Ducks first NCAA title
EUGENE — Sulman Raza made a 7-foot birdie putt on the third extra hole to outlast Taylor Funk and give Oregon its first NCAA men's golf title, 3-2 over short-handed Texas on Wednesday.
Raza rallied in regulation at Eugene Country Club and finished off Funk — the son of PGA Tour Champions player Fred Funk — with the birdie on the par-4 10th on the 21st hole.
"Those last two holes of regular play and those three playoff holes, I felt like everybody was watching and everything was on my shoulders," said Raza, a junior from Eugene. "I think I handled it great. I've worked so hard to put myself in this position and excel and achieve this goal. To do it on this kind of stage and in front of this many people and fans, I think it is going to give me a huge confidence boost."
Oregon became the first host school to win since Oklahoma in 1989 at Oak Tree. The Ducks entered the tournament 26th in the NCAA ranking and were the No. 6 seed in match play.
"They are just competitors. They worked hard and they are great players," Oregon coach Casey Martin said. "It is all about these guys. I haven't hit a shot, I just told them to breathe. That was the extent of my work. These guys did an awesome job. It is a special group."
Raza also scored the deciding point in the Ducks' 3-2 semifinal victory over Illinois on Tuesday.
"This is a dream come true," said Aaron Wise, also the individual champion Monday. "We have worked so hard for this exact moment. For Raza yesterday and today to do what he did is incredible."
Spotted a 1-0 lead when Texas star Beau Hossler withdrew against Zach Foushee because of a left shoulder injury, Oregon made it 2-0 when Edwin Yi beat Gavin Hall 4 and 3 in the first match.
Hossler was unable to play after fighting through pain Tuesday to score the winning point in the Longhorns' 4-1 semifinal victory over Southern California.
"With the way my shoulder is right now I don't have a chance of competing at all," Hossler said during the match. "I'd be doing my team a disservice to be out there and, obviously, be risking some serious injury on my shoulder."
Top-ranked Texas missed a chance to become the first No. 1 seed to win since the format changed to match play. Texas won the last of its three titles in 2012 at Riviera when Jordan Spieth was a freshman
"We came up short today just a little bit," Texas coach John Fields said. "The NCAA crowned a great champion in Oregon. It is their moment, and we gave it our best. We didn't lose this golf tournament, they won it. I'm excited for them."
Scottie Scheffler and Doug Ghim won for Texas. Scheffler beat Wise 4 and 3 in the second match, and Ghim topped Thomas Lim 2 and 1 in the fifth.
"Scottie just played a heck of match," Wise said. "I just got beat."
Set to turn pro, Wise became the first individual champion to also play on the team winner since Kevin Chappell at UCLA in 2008, the year before the format switch to match play.
It came down to Raja and Funk in the fourth match.
"I realized Scottie won and Doug was basically closing out," Funk said. "I knew at that point it was going to come down to our match for the national championship. I played some good golf, and he played a little better golf."
Raja tied Funk with a par on the par-4 17th, and they halved the par-4 18th with pars. On 18, Funk made a 5-footer to extend the match after Raja two-putted from 35 feet.
On the 10th on the first extra hole, Raza's 6-foot birdie try for the victory slid right, and Funk made a 3 1/2-footer for par to extend the match. On the 18th on the second extra hole, Funk had a chance to win, but missed a 10-foot birdie try.
Funk took the lead with a 7-foot birdie putt on the par-5 15th. The sophomore escaped with a halve on the par-3 16th, getting up-and-down for bogey from the drop zone after hitting into the water.
"There were a lot of nerves," Funk said. "Obviously, there is a hometown crowd for Oregon, so I wanted to keep that as quiet as possible. Obviously, the nerves were there. I loved every minute of it. That is what you live for and we didn't come out on top this time, but there will be many more opportunities and I'm looking forward to those."
Scheffler closed out Wise on the 15th after the Oregon star four-putted for bogey.
"I was pretty nervous out there, but I was able to handle it pretty well, thankfully," Scheffler said.