Injuries of any kind, much less the one that felled Oregon Junior Greg Solhaug, are not what you expect when you watch a golf tournament. Do spectators sometimes get beaned by a wayward shot into the gallery? Sure, but for the actual golfers anything other than a tweaked knee or wrenched back is pretty rare, barring bad driving. During the second round of the recently-concluded NCAA Men’s Golf Championship, however, Solhaug had to withdraw from the tournament after stepping on a golf tee. Few details are available, but somehow the tee managed to pierce what is normally a pretty thick sole on a typical golf shoe. The shoes are built for stability and grip but Solhaug’s put him in the Clubhouse, albeit with a potentially interesting hypothetical case study on liability for the Oregon Law School.
Solhaug is a quality player, and his withdrawal definitely hurt Oregon, but probably didn’t make the difference between the Ducks making the final days of play or going home early. For the three rounds of stroke play, Oregon finished 27th of the 30 teams competing.
Oregon began play on Day One at the Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona with a great start. Early on, the Ducks were 3-under par and in the top position before running into trouble on the last half of the front nine.
Oregon was in the afternoon grouping, which meant the Arizona heat was building amid swirling winds for virtually their entire round, and it seemed to take a toll. The highlight of the round was Sophomore Grayson Leach’s hole-in-one on the 173-yard, par 3 16th. Leach holed out a 9-iron on the hole, which played tougher than its relative distance might indicate.
For the round, Oregon shot a 12-over-par 292, ending up in a tie for 23rd. Leach led Oregon with an even-par 70, good for a tie for 19th among individuals. Owen Avrit came in at 73 and Aiden Krafft at 74. Solhaug and Nate Stember rounded out Oregon’s counting scores with a 75 and a 77 respectively.
Day Two featured Solhaug’s scary injury, a circumstance Oregon Coach Casey Martin noted he’d never seen in five decades around the game. Despite the unusual and certainly disruptive nature of Solhaug’s situation, Oregon actually scored one stroke better on Day Two. Senior Nate Stember led the Ducks with a one-under-par 69, improving 8 shots from his first day tally. Krafft was right behind him with a 70 while Leach and Avrit scored 77 and 75 respectively. Oregon’s 291 total on the day put them at 23-over-par for the tournament, sitting in 22nd place.
Oregon needed to make a move to get into position to qualify for the Day Four final round of stroke play as part of the top 15 teams, but with Solhaug out the Ducks had a large hill to climb. Freshman Gabriel Hari came on for Solhaug and had one of Oregon’s best rounds of the day, shooting a 74. The Ducks never could find the magic, however. Avrit shot a 73 and Stember a 74, but Oregon’s overall score of 299 for the round was their highest of the tournament and saw them drop from 22nd to 27th in the field of 30. Stember had the Ducks best 3-day performance, tying for 81st place while Avrit also finished in the top 100 at #94.
"We had a great year. We had a lot of adversity here this weekend, but that's alright, the kids are resilient. We'll be right back and we'll do it again next year. I'm really proud of them."— Oregon Men's Golf (@OregonMGolf) May 29, 2023
️ HC Casey Martin#GoDucks
One of the great things about being a collegiate golfer is the offseason is short. In just 3 months, the Ducks will begin their Fall season and get right back at it. Oregon will bring back some quality golfers including Solhaug and Stember so the future of the program still looks bright.