In the NCAA Semifinals on Tuesday, Texas Longhorns men's golf was able to exact revenge on the USC Trojans for eliminating the 'Horns last year in the quarterfinals, but the potential price was high, as junior star Beau Hossler injured his shoulder on the 15th hole and head coach John Fields declared his status "up in the air" for the finals against the Oregon Ducks on Wednesday.
Fields also praised his team.
"Our guys played really, really well today, this morning and this afternoon, top to bottom," he said. "Everybody did something special today, whether it was Taylor Funk, Scottie Scheffler, Gavin Hall, Doug Ghim or Beau Hossler. They all played really, really well and they gave it their best heart and soul out there, Texas fight. I'm so proud of them for getting to the finals. But I know they feel like they're not finished right now. No matter what the circumstances are, they'll be ready to play tomorrow."
Texas prevailed 4-1 over USC thanks to the incredible efforts of Hossler. After feeling his shoulder pop out on the par-5 hole with three remaining, Hossler took a one-shot lead with a birdie on the hole, then battled through the pain from his tee shot on 16 with a chip shot for birdie.
After hitting the ball into the rough on his first shot on 17, Hossler had to receive medical treatment and let his teammate, sophomore Scott Scheffler, play through. The treatment didn't help much, though, as Hossler found the greenside bunker with his next shot. Unable to hit with a wedge, Hossler made the unorthodox decision to use his putter and went past the hole by 25 feet.
Then Hossler hit a putt that may not reverberate through the Longhorns pantheon of greatest moments ever, but not for a lack of competitiveness greatness in facing extreme adversity:
"I appreciate him finishing this hole," Texas head coach John Fields said. "Looked like we might not be able to do that. He was in some pretty significant pain. Even I had told him not to, I don't think he would have pulled off. You saw him putt it out of the bunker. I mean, who does that?"
Newly-minted Longhorns legend Beau Hossler does that, apparently.
Unfortunately, Hossler doesn't know whether he'll be able to participate in the finals, and that could be a huge blow for the Longhorns, as the match play rules dictate that Hossler would forfeit his match if he can't, leaving his Texas teammates in the position of needing three wins in the other four matches to claim the title. In the first two rounds of match play, that wasn't an issue with 4-1 wins over Oklahoma and USC, but doing so again against Oregon in the finals could be more difficult.
Given the fact that Hossler will turn almost certainly turn pro after the the completion of his junior season, if he can't play or can't play effectively on Wednesday, it would likely be a tragic end to an incredible career with the Longhorns.
"We've got to talk with the trainer, and I know we had medical personnel here, but with the pairings and this, haven't had a chance to sit down and talk with anybody," Fields said of Hossler's injury. "I know we'll do the right thing for our student-athlete, though, and we'll come out firing tomorrow, one way or another."
But even in a worst-case scenario in which Hossler doesn't play, perhaps his teammates, who have done their own part to earn a top national ranking for Texas, may just be good enough to make up for Hossler's shoulder injury.
However it plays out, there should be some high drama in the final, which will feature these final pairings on the home course for Oregon:
Sixth-seeded Oregon and Texas will face off at 4:10 p.m. CT on the Golf Channel with live tournament action from 5-9 p.m.