BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (May 10, 2023) – Trust the process. That’s the mantra.
The Howard University men’s golf team is in only its third year of existence, but it has already built something strong, and by the results of the 2023 PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship presented by Chase Sapphire, long lasting. The Bison repeated as Division I champions Wednesday at Shoal Creek, winning by the kind of score that makes onlookers do a double take and recheck their math – 25-under 835 to win by 57 shots.
That happens when your individuals are good enough to occupy the top three spots of the leaderboard, each shooting under par while nobody else in the field managed to. And after seeing Greg Odom Jr. win the low medalist honor for two consecutive years, his teammate Everett Whiten Jr. took the lead spot with an absolute dominant showing in the final round to finish at 14-under par (201).
“I feel like if you prepare properly and you execute by trusting the process, things like this can happen,” said Howard coach Sam Puryear, who has ingrained in his players that they have to trust the process. “This is a byproduct of a lot of hard work, a lot of personal belief, a lot of sacrifice. We had a quick two-day turnaround from our conference championship, so there was a lot on everybody’s plate, but it worked out in our favor.”
Whiten started the day one shot behind Chicago State’s Kieran Hogarth, but blitzed the field by birding four of the first six holes and finished the front nine in 31 shots. He didn’t let up on the back side, making three more birdies for a final-round 64 (8-under).
Odom finished second at 5-under and teammate Marcus Smith was 4-under for the Championship.
“It’s been good vibes all week, and I knew the course was getable if I just stayed patient,” Whiten said. “I’m so proud of my guys. It’s been a long year, but we came here knowing what we had to do and trusted the process.”
Mixon Captures Title in His Final PWCC
Louisville senior C.M. Mixon knew he had to put in overtime on the practice greens after his second-round 73, which dropped him from the solo lead to tied at the top of the men’s Individual Division after Tuesday’s play.
So he made the 30-minute drive from Bent Brook Golf Course, where he played his round, back to Shoal Creek, where he played the final round. He spent time working on his putting stroke from different distances, determined not to have his flat stick let him down the way it did earlier that day.
And when he was faced with one of the biggest putts of his collegiate career on no. 18 – an 8-footer to win the Championship – he reflected back to that practice session before he knocked it in for a winning birdie followed by a fist pump.
“All I was thinking about was drills,” Mixon said. “I struggled with the putter [in round two], and I was like I can’t have that happen today. I was doing 8-foot, 9-foot drills. So all I could do was think back to those drills, and thankfully it went in.”
A bogey on no. 11 dropped Mixon two shots back of defending Champion Sparky Ariyachatvakin of Delaware. But while Mixon made pars through the next six holes, Ariyachatvakin bogeyed three of them, the most costly on 17 where Mixon’s par tied the two with Purdue’s Kentaro Nanayama at 1-under.
Then, Mixon’s birdie at 18 avoided the three-man playoff and gave Mixon the PWCC victory he’s coveted since his Championship debut in 2021.
“These top guys are as good as anyone [in the NCAA],” Mixon said. “There are champions at the NCAA level, so to come here and compete with them and win is a blessing.”
Kentucky State, Stangebye Win D-II
The Division II men’s Championship had little drama as Kentucky State won the team title by 20 shots (6-over 862), and Micah Stangebye shot in the 60s all three rounds to come in at 12-under 202 and top Savannah State teammates Korbin Allen (6-under) and Nicolas Macsuga (1-under) at Bent Brook Golf Course.
“We’ve only won this tournament twice in school history and that was years ago [1998, 2000],” Stangebye said. “For us to come into it and win it, it’s unbelievable. We knew we had a chance coming into it. We got three wins prior to the PGA WORKS, but we felt we had more left in us. We showed up. It’s unbelievable to get the individual W and the team W.”
For more information on the 2023 PGA WORKS Collegiate Championship, visit https://pgaworkscollegiate.org/.
Greg Dillard, PGA of America, 561-308-8013, email@example.com
Jared Minski, Mastro Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org, 732-546-4325