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Defending champ Longhorns different team, same mission

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MILTON, Ga. – This Texas team hardly resembles last year’s NCAA Championship squad, not least because the Longhorns’ head coach, John Fields, has lost 75 pounds.

No, more than that, the Longhorns are without two key contributors from last season’s championship team: All-American Dylan Frittelli graduated last year, while Jordan Spieth, the 19-year-old rising star, turned pro last December, leaving a sizable void in Texas’ lineup.

Enter Brandon Stone, the freshman from South Africa who has won three events, compiled a team-best 71.24 scoring average, and is the No. 5 player in Golfstat’s rankings.

This week, Stone and Julio Vegas – the brother of PGA Tour player Jhonattan Vegas, also a UT alum – have paced the Longhorns to a strong start at the NCAA Championship.

Through two rounds Texas sits at 10-under 550, two shots behind host Georgia Tech and in good position to secure a spot in the eight-team match-play bracket.

“Yes, it is a different team,” said Fields, whose Longhorns have won three of their past four starts, including the Big 12 Championship, “but they feel like they can compete. And I’m not doing anything to talk them out of that.”