TRINITY, Texas (April 29, 2012) -- True freshman Ty Dunlap drained a two-foot putt for par on the 18th hole at Whispering Pines Sunday afternoon to bring home the Texas A&M men's golf program's first-ever Big 12 Championship.
The Aggies finished the weekend at 13-over (296-286-286-297=1165), three shots ahead of No. 1-ranked Texas (1168, +16). The conference crown was the 11th in team history and the program's first since capturing the 1987 Southwest Conference title in Houston.
"This is a tough championship to get your hands on and it feels great," head coach J.T. Higgins said. "It's such a great golf conference. You're competing against Oklahoma State and Texas, who are two of the best golf programs in the country, and it seems the No. 1-ranked team in the country is in the field every year. You know you have to play your best golf to have a chance to win. I'm so proud of the way we finished and closed it out. Texas caught us, and we just battled back over the last three holes and we got it."
The Aggies held a three-shot lead over No. 1-ranked Texas with two groups needing to play the par-4, 428-yard 18th. The Longhorns were able to shave two shots off the deficit before the final group, made up of Dunlap and Dylan Frittelli-UT's No. 2-ranked player nationally-stepped to the tee box.
Both hit perfect drives into the middle of the fairway before taking aim at the green, which had the pin sitting up and on a false front that hid a hard drop to the water. Dunlap's second shot went to the back of the green, while Frittelli pulled his attempt just a little bit left.
Having to chip to get near the hole, Frittelli's effort was hit too hard, caught the slope and rolled down into the water. Dunlap then stepped to his ball and came within two feet of draining a nice birdie putt, but then cashed that in for par to set off A&M's celebration of its first conference title in 25 years.
"It was a true freshman against one of the top 10 amateur players in the world with the Big 12 Championship on the line," Higgins said. "He hit a perfect drive, a perfect wedge and a perfect lag putt. I don't know what else we could have asked him. It was unbelievable."
The top five teams in each regional advance to nationals, which are scheduled for May 29-June 3 at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.