For the third time in four years, a Big 12 team will be represented in the NCAA Men's Golf Championship match as Texas punched its ticket to the title round Saturday at the Riviera Country Club.
Junior Julio Vegas birdied each of the course's final three holes to help third-seeded UT defeat seventh-seeded Oregon 3-2. The Longhorns will face No. 1 seed Alabama in the championship match beginning at noon CT on Sunday.
In a back-and-forth matchup, Texas took a 2-0 lead thanks to a 3-and-1 win from sophomore Toni Hakula over Oregon's Robbie Ziegler and Cody Gribble's 2-and-1 victory over the Ducks' Jonathan Woo. Hakula trailed early but claimed the lead for good on the seventh hole. Gribble was tied with Woo through 15 holes, but back-to-back birdies on 16 and 17 clinched the win.
Oregon's Daniel Miernicki was either tied with or trailed Texas' Dylan Frittelli through 16 holes before sinking a 30-footer for eagle on 17, taking the wind out of Fritelli's birdie. Miernicki clinched the 2-up win with a 3-foot birdie putt on 18.
By the time Miernicki's final putt hit the bottom of the cup, Vegas had reclaimed the lead with a birdie putt on 17 to take a 1-up advantage over Oregon's Andrew Vijarro. He then sent his second shot on 18 to within eight feet of the pin. Vijarro, from about 25 feet, next missed a long birdie attempt from the fringe while Vegas punched in his birdie putt for the clinching 2-up win.
Behind them on 18, Oregon's Eugene Wong was clinging to a one-hole lead over Texas freshman Jordan Spieth, but the drama was stopped once Vegas clinched the match point.
Sunday's match features the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the nation for the first time since the NCAA began the match-play championship format in 2009. Texas joins Texas A&M and Oklahoma State as the three schools to advance to to the title match in the past four years.
A championship crown would mark the third in Texas history and the fourth for a league school during the Big 12 era. The Longhorns won back-to-back NCAA Championships in 1971 and 1972.
Final Pairings (Central time, Alabama player v. Texas player)
12 p.m. - Bobby Wyatt vs. Toni Hakula
12:09 p.m. - Cory Whitsett vs. Dylan Frittelli
12:18 p.m. - Scott Strohmeyer vs. Cody Gribble
12:27 p.m. - Justin Thomas vs. Jordan Spieth
12:36 p.m. - Hunter Hamrick vs. Julio Vegas