NCAA golf finals: Haskins Award winner Chris Gotterup, Sooners fall short of national championship but end season with pride | Sports

Chris Gotterup strolled up to the first hole of Grayhawk Golf Club.

The Little Silver, New Jersey native’s first day of his collegiate finale in Scottsdale, 2,405 miles away from his home, was 344 days in the making.

Gotterup finished stroke play at the NCAA Finals at 1-over after four days of play, good for a t-No. 5 individual finish. He, alongside OU, drew a match with host Arizona State, and the Sun Devils spent superior on their home course. But Gotterup never expected his journey would lead to where he is now.

Less than a year ago, Gotterup decided to continue his collegiate career at Oklahoma after four years at Rutgers. His time with the Scarlet Knights was full of accolades, most notably, the Big 10 Player of the Year award in 2019-20, and numerous school records.

However, after four years in Newark, Gotterup wanted a new challenge. His senior season, while still good by any measure, was not quite as spectacular as his junior year. Gotterup averaged 72 strokes per round, slightly worse than his 70.68 in 2019-20.

Additionally, Gotterup wanted to go somewhere farther from his home. Newark is about 40 miles and almost an hour away from where he grew up. Norman, on the other hand, is at least five states away by car, and should one dare to make the road trip, it would take about 23 hours.

“I chose Oklahoma just because of two great coaches in (coach Ryan) Hybl and (assistant Bill) Allcorn,” Gotterup said. “I got everything I wanted and more out of my decision.”

The decision to relocate paid off in a major way for Gotterup. The senior redshirt is in the midst of the best season of his career. He’s averaged 69.77 strokes per round – nearly two strokes under par. Gotterup has claimed two meet titles and eight top 10 finishes at OU’s 12 tournaments and has helped Oklahoma to six team victories.

Redshirt senior Chris Gotterup is honored following the 2022 Big 12 Championship at Whispering Pines Golf Course in Trinity, Texas.

Gotterup was unable to win the individual national championship, but had the team national championship, his primary goal, still left on the table.

“That’s why I came here, ultimately, to come in and try to win a national championship,” Gotterup said. “Just to be a part of something like that, hopefully, is going to be an awesome end of the story. I would have never thought that I would be in this spot when I started college. It’s all just kind of icing on the cake for me so I’m just going to enjoy it and see where we go.

The team title spent equally as elusive as the individual title, as OU was eliminated in match play by Arizona State in the quarterfinals. Despite the less than ideal finish, Gotterup still had a spectacular season. He earned the Haskins Award, given annually to the top collegiate golfer.

One tournament, in particular, stands out as Gotterup’s best. The Sooners traveled to Puerto Rico in February for the Puerto Rico Classic. Gotterup promptly posted his best score of the season – a three-round 196 that earned him the individual championship and the right to compete in the PGA Tour’s Puerto Rico Classic as an amateur.

He played sterling golf again in Puerto Rico, becoming the first amateur to record a top-10 PGA Tour finish since 2017.

OU followed up its Puerto Rico Classic showing with a win at the Southern Highlands before finishing in fourth place at the Men’s NIT and Calusa Cup. The back-to-back fourth-place finishes altered the team’s mindset. The losses sparked the competitive flame that had fled to dwindle during the stretch in which the Sooners found nothing but success.

“I think it’s excited us because odds are, you won’t go out and win every tournament,” senior Logan McAllister said. “You’d love to, but if we were coming into the postseason coming off six or seven straight wins, I don’t think… we would have been as pumped up for it. Because we came off a couple of fourth place finishes. …

“I think it lit a fire in all of us to just step up a little bit and we got a big win at ASU’s event next week against a really good field. We beat Arizona State on their home course, which is huge anytime you can do that, and we rolled out right into the Big 12 Championship, where we were able to get it done, and then regional itself. ”

Chris Gotterup

Redshirt senior Chris Gotterup poses with his trophy after tying for the East Lake Cup individual championship on Oct. 25, 2021.

McAlister strongly feels that the consistent quality of Oklahoma opponents has faced in each tournament helped develop the resilience necessary to fan the flames as the Sooners began winning again. OU has faced conference foes and NCAA qualifiers Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech, in addition to Arizona State and Pepperdine – the team that outplayed the Sooners for the title a year ago, among others.

“I think this week would be a little more shocking if you will because, for teams that don’t get to play the best during the regular season, it can be a little bit scary,” McAllister said. “But for us, we play against these teams pretty much every time we go out and tee it up.”

After the lackluster performances – by their standards – Oklahoma won three straight meets, including the Norman Regional to advance to the NCAA Finals at Grayhawk, during which Gotterup has been vital to the Sooners’ play.

“He’s been phenomenal for us,” Hybl said. “He’s truly a guy’s guy. He makes the locker room that much (more) fun to be around. He’s funny, he’s a great leader, he came here with a mission to get better, to allow our platform at the University of Oklahoma to give him that opportunity to showcase who he is, which we’ve been able to do. It’s been really fun to be a part of his growth this year. ”

His growth has been compounded with that of his roommate, McAllister. The duo has pushed each other all year long – McAllister sits just behind him with 69.79 average strokes per round. Both despise the idea of ​​losing to the other, even in practice, but when they play as a team, they bring the best out of each other.

“I think it’s helped them out,” Hybl said. “I think that their competitive spirit, day in, day out has made them better this year. Neither one of them wants to lose to the other. That’s the old iron sharpens iron mentality.

“There’s no doubt that each one of their minds and their bodies have made each other that much better this year, which is great when it comes to a team format, because that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to have all of our guys make each other better, and they’ve done a fantastic job with that this year. ”

McAllister had a fantastic season in his own right. The Oklahoma City native is ranked No. 3 in all of college golf, according to GolfStat, and was a finalist for the Haskins Award that Gotterup won.

That doesn’t discount the matter of national championships, and what it meant to him. McAllister was one of two Sooners to earn match-play victories last year against Pepperdine when the team as a whole fell short. Without Jonathan Brightwell, who concluded his collegiate career as the other OU golfer to win in a match play against the Waves in 2021, McAllister stands alone with that experience.

He took that experience a step further.

“He’s been a very good leader for us for years now,” Hybl said. “He was fortunate because he had some great leadership in front of him and he was able to follow for some years and understand what it means to become a leader, that he has become this year in particular.

“His game just continues to thrive and grow. He has more shots in his bag now than he’s ever had. His short game continues to develop and get better. So, just really like where he’s at, especially mentally. From an expectation standpoint, he knows he’s one of the better players in college golf, and he thinks he’s supposed to go and win every week, and that’s a big part of being comfortable. “

During the first three days of the national competition, McAllister and Gotterup lived up to expectations. Despite a slower start on Friday – the duo shot 1 and 3-over, respectively – they picked up the pace on Saturday.

Gotterup shot 4-under while McAllister fired even par for their best day of golf in stroke play. On Sunday, Gotterup went 2-under to McAlister’s 4-over. Despite McAlister shooting 4-over, his teammates picked up where he left off. Senior Patrick Welch had the best round of any golfer to take to Grayhawk with a clean 7-under 63, and redshirt freshman Stephen Campbell shot 2-over.

Oklahoma was presented with the opportunity to take complete control of the national championships on Monday. Instead, the Sooners struggled mightily. OU posted a 295, 20 strokes worse than its sterling Saturday performance and eight strokes behind its previous low from the long weekend. Additionally, Oklahoma’s 15-over was the second worst Monday score of the teams that advanced to match play.

Goodman carded the lowest Monday score at 3-over, while Gotterup and McAllister shot 4-over to miss their chances at an individual championship. McAllister, who entered the weekend in the top five of the PGA Tour U rankings, finished at No. 3. McAlister’s finish guaranteed him a summer spot on the Korn Ferry Tour, one step below the PGA Tour.

When Gotterup teed off Tuesday for the start of match play in the Scottsdale heat, with a high of 94, the moment he prepared for, waited for – the moment that he came to Norman for – arrived. Gotterup’s collegiate journey, one that’s taken him from Newark to Norman, came to a close at Grayhawk Golf Club, but not in the way he hoped.

Gotterup, hours removed from receiving the Haskins Award which is awarded to the nation’s top player, played poorly. He fell 7 & 5 – a rout by golf standards – and was the first to fall in the Sooners eventual season-ending loss to Arizona State.

OU will return to the national stage again, with multiple freshmen on the roster that golfed at nationals. Oklahoma finished as the only team to qualify for a match play each of the past six years, and Gotterup was a critical part of that.

Despite that, Gotterup’s near full-circle moment didn’t close, the storybook was left with blank pages at the end, and he didn’t get to ride off into the Arizona sunset with the national championship he and Oklahoma sought for.

Not everyone does.


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