Texas A&M takes NCAA title on Burgoon's clutch shot
__TOLEDO--__With one swing, Texas A&M senior Bronson Burgoon ended the longest hour of his life ... and became a national champion.
Four up with five holes to play against Arkansas senior Andrew Landry in the match that would decide whether the Aggies or the Razorback would claim the 112th NCAA Championship, the 21-year-old All-American from The Woodlands, Texas, suddenly couldn't find a fairway at Inverness, dropping four straight holes to bring the match back to all square and then hitting his tee ball on the 18th at Inverness Club into the gnarly right rough just short of a fairway bunker
After watching Landry's approach shot from the fairway hit the green and come to rest 35 feet from the hole, Burgoon dramatically took fate into his own hands when he hit a gap wedge from 125 yards, the ball landing on the green and started rolling toward the hole.
And rolling. And rolling.
As his fellow Texas A&M players began jumping up and down along the fairway, the ball nearly fell into the cup, stopping just three inches away.
"I honestly just wanted to get it on the green with 20 feet and try to make the putt," said Burgoon, acknowledge the slide that he had been on the previous four holes.
As Burgoon walked toward the green, the 200 or so spectators applauding madly, all Landry could do was give Burgoon a congratulatory fist pump as he conceded the birdie.
Landry's attempt to top Burgoon's amazing shot with a miraculous putt missed to the left, giving Burgoon a 1-up win and Texas A&M a 3-2 victory to claim the title
"It was a phenomenal shot," Landry said. "There's no much you can do about it. He's a great player."
On the 18th tee, Texas A&M coach J.T. Higgins tried to get Burgoon refocused. "I just told him, 'I wouldn't rather have anybody else playing this hole than you right now, even after losing four straight.' I knew he was a clutch performer. I knew he'd come through and he did."
Still Landry made a par on the 17th hole to square the match, it appeared like Arkansas had all the momentum.
"Honestly, when Landry was in the fairway on the 18th and Burgoon was in the rough, I thought we were going to win," said Arkansas coach Brad McMakin.
The national championship came down to the final match between the two schools' No. 1 players on sun-soaked but windy Saturday afternoon only after Texas A&M and Arkansas split the four preceding matches. The Razorbacks won the first two matches, Jamie Marshall and Jason Cuthbertson coming up victorious over Conrad Shindler (3 and 2) and Matt Van Zandt (3 and 1). But they had to as Texas A&M's John Hurley and Andrea Pavan won big over Ethan Tracy (6 and 4) and David Lingmerth (7 and 6).
Burgoon took a 1-up lead on Landry with a par on the fourth hole, only to drop the fifth hole to return to all square. A birdie on the seventh and par on the ninth then gave Burgoon a 2-up advantage at the turn, won that grew to 3-up with a birdie on the 11th and 4-up with a par on the 13th.
While it looked like the Aggies would walk away with a convincing win, Landry had other thoughts. "I knew I had to start trying to put some pressure on him," said Landry. "You have to make other people play bad."
Burgoon hit it into a bunker off the tee on the 14th and missed a 25-foot putt to save par to loss that hole, then missed the fairway and green on the 15th while Landry rolled in a 15-foot birdie.
On the 16th, Burgoon again hit it in the rough left, then into a bunker short left of the green. The frustration became obvious for Burgoon, as he just stopped short of slamming the club against his bag. His third shot only got within 25 feet of the hole, and he lipped out his par save to see his lead shrink to 1 up.
On the 17th, Burgoon switched sides, missing the fairway to the right this time and punching his approach shot just short of the green. His chip, however, raced eight feet by the hole and when he missed his par attempt to the left, the match was back to all square.
Then, just as out of nowhere as Burgoon losing four straight holes, he hit one of the most memorable shots in NCAA history.
"I couldn't have drawn it up any better. I love the team," Burgoon said. "They battled their butts off all day, and I just tried bringing it in. That was the hardest thing when it was slipping away. I was more discouraged for the guys on the team than for myself."
Roughly 20 people associated with the Arkansas athletic department flew from Fayettville to Toledo Saturday morning to attend the match-play finals. Among those on the trip were current athletic director Jeff Long, former athletic director__Frank Broyles__,John Tyson (CEO of Tyson Foods and owner of Arkansas' home course), women's head coach Shauna Estes-Taylor and assistant Mike Adams.