With all due respect to Mack Brown's University of Texas football team, the next great Longhorn sports dynasty may belong to, um . . . golf.
Even golf novices, those who wouldn't watch golf on TV for money, tuned in to watch something special this weekend — the best 54-hole performance by an amateur in the U.S. Open since Jack Nicklaus.
Beau Hossler, a confident 17-year-old golf prodigy from Mission Viejo, Calif., put himself in contention for the U.S. Open Championship. Going into the final round he had played himself into eighth place (he outplayed Tiger Woods but then again who hasn't lately?) and into position not just to be the first top 10 amateur in 40 years, but to compete for the championship.
“There’s so much, so many positives for the week,” Hossler said. “I played well. Out of 72 holes, I probably played well on 60 of them."
Texas Longhorn fans, even those who don't know a birdie from a Cover 2 defense, tuned in all over the world to see the future of Texas golf.
You see, Hossler, a rising high school senior-to-be, playing the final round of the U.S. Open in burnt orange, has committed to become a Texas Longhorn in the fall of 2013. He will join Jordan Spieth, another golf phenom on the 40 acres, if he keeps that commitment.
Spieth, a rising college sophomore to be, led the UT men's golf team to its first national championship since 1972 this spring. Back in '72, a couple guys named Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite took Texas to its second straight national title. It's been a long golf drought ever since.
Going into Sunday, Hossler was almost all NBC Sports could talk about. For those who don't watch golf regularly, amateur golfers are generally also-rans in the big pro tournaments. Only a few amateurs — including Nicklaus, perhaps the greatest golfer in history, and Woods — had ever managed to play themselves into headlines quite like this.
The stress is unimaginable during the championship round of American golf's greatest stage. Hossler began his Sunday three-over par. He ended his day at nine-over par, the U.S. Open course at the Olympic Club in San Francisco teaching him a thing or two.
In the end, Spieth finished even on the day, seven-over for the tournament, and won low amateur honors. But it was Hossler who won the hearts and minds of golf fans despite his disappointing six-over 76 final round.
“There’s so much, so many positives for the week,” Hossler said in a TV interview. “I played well. Out of 72 holes, I probably played well on 60 of them. I made some crucial mistakes, missed some on the wrong side of the holes, but just like from last year, it’s only a learning experience and I still have some time before I come out and start doing this for a living.”
Texas Longhorn fans should not be concerned. Hossler and Spieth are both the real deal, and Texas golf, the pride associated with Kite and Crenshaw and Golfweek Coach of the Year John Fields, returns to its place as an elite program.
Hossler and Spieth will keep Longhorn fans satisfied for the next few years.