Competing for the Texas golf team can make a guy feel insecure merely by showing up for practice.
Steven Chervony is the only senior on the team. For three years, he was overshadowed by older players, one of whom, Beau Hossler, is on the PGA Tour. Two others, Scottie Scheffler and Doug Ghim, are working their way to that status.
Now Texas has three freshmen, Cole Hammer and the Coody twins, Pierceson and Parker, who were big recruits.
“Seems like ever since I got here, I’ve been chasing others,” Chervony said. “It’s not fun when you’ve got three young guys that come in and feel like they can kick your butt every day. That can get discouraging. It’s humbling. But it’s also motivating because it hurts to lose to them.”
Chervony didn’t lose to them, or anybody else, on Tuesday. He used some exceptional putting to shoot 5-under-par 66 — the best score of the day, helping the sixth-ranked Longhorns to a 16-stroke lead after two rounds of the 54-hole NCAA Austin Regional at the UT Golf Club.
Texas began the day tied with Pepperdine for first place at 6-under. Now Pepperdine and Clemson are tied for second at even par. USC, the No. 2 seed behind Texas, is 10-over and in sixth place, five strokes behind Arkansas. Only five teams will advance to the NCAA Championship scheduled for May 24-29 at Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Ark.
Chervony, Hammer (68) and Pierceson Coody (72) share the individual lead with Joe Highsmith and Joshua McCarthy of Pepperdine at 4-under 138.
Junior Spencer Soosman, the Longhorns’ No. 5 player, matched Hammer’s 68, second-best round of the day. Soosman’s in a tie for 15th. Parker Coody (72) is tied for 12th.
Chervony matched his best round of the season, propelling himself with one of his seven birdies on the fourth hole, a seven-foot putt with a four-foot break. He finished the round with three crucial putts, a 10-footer to save par on 16, a six-foot birdie on 17 and a 12-foot save on the difficult 18th.
Days like this are awesome.
“The hole looks very big,” Chervony said. “The putter just feels good in your hands. Everything looks like it’s going to go in.”
Soosman made six birdies, his favorites, perhaps, a chip-in at No. 6 and a “perfect wedge shot” that left him with a four-foot putt.
A day like Tuesday can instill confidence in a golfer. Soosman can use the boost.
“I came from being a really high recruit on one of the best high school teams (Westlake Village, near Los Angeles) in California,” Soosman said. “I’ve struggled for three years straight. I haven’t ever come close to my talent, my ability. I may not have a career close to what I’ve wanted, but I definitely have the ability to be a star on the PGA Tour. I just have to keep learning and wait until my moment shines.”
Texas coach John Fields said lack of talent is not an issue with Soosman, who is working on becoming more decisive and staying in the moment.
“If you don’t trust your ability, it’s hard to perform,” Fields said. “One thing we’ve talked about is no matter how good your golf swing is, no matter how good your putting is, fear is undefeated.”
NCAA Austin Regional
1. Texas, 278-274-552 (-16)
T2. Pepperdine, 278-290-568 (E)
T2. Clemson, 284-284-568 (E)
4. TCU, 280-292-572 (+4)
5. Arkansas, 282-291-573 (+5)
6. USC, 290-288-578 (+10)
7. Iowa, 295-285-580 (+12)
8. Marquette, 290-297-587 (+19)
9. San Jose State, 291-303-594 (+26)
T10. St. Mary’s (Calif.), 307-290-597 (+29)
T10. Missouri-KC, 295-302-597 (+29)
T1. Steven Chervony, Texas, 72-66-138 (-4)
T1. Cole Hammer, Texas, 70-68-138 (-4)
T1. Joe Highsmith, Pepperdine, 68-70-138 (-4)
T1. Joshua McCarthy, Pepperdine, 67-71-138 (-4)
T1. Pierceson Coody, Texas, 66-72-138 (-4)
6. Julian Perico, Arkansas, 67-72-139 (-3)
T7. Stefano Mazzoli, TCU, 71-69-140 (-2)
T7. Sam Kim, USC, 69-71-140 (-2)
T9. Bryson Nimmer, Clemson, 72-69-141 (-1)
T9. Benton Weinberg, Iowa, 69-72-141 (-1)
T9. Blake Elliott, McNeese St., 71-70-141 (-1)