- Vanderbilt freshman star Gordon Sargent wins individual title at the NCAA Championship 2022 and is the ninth to do so since USC’s Jamie Lovemark in 2007.
- Sargent is the second freshman to win an NCAA medal in the span of a week, following Stanford’s Rose Zhang.
As the final round of stroke play at the 2022 NCAA Div. I Men’s Golf Championship got underway; twelve players were within four shots of the leaders, setting up a tense finale in the desert. With two players in the clubhouse – Parker Coody (Texas) and Ryan Burnett (North Carolina) – and the final group of Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra (Oklahoma State), Chris Gotterup (Oklahoma), and Gordon Sargent (Vanderbilt) on the 18th tee, five men were tied for the lead at even par. Gotterup made a bogey to fall back into a tie for fifth place at 1 over with Arizona State’s Cameron Sisk, Pepperdine’s William Mouw, and North Carolina’s David Ford. Chacarra and Sargent each made par to go to a playoff with Coody and Burnett.
It was more theatrical until the first extra hole on Monday when Vanderbilt’s standout freshman Gordon Sargent won the NCAA Championship in a four-man playoff with perfect accuracy. He is the ninth freshman to be a recipient of the title since USC’s Jamie Lovemark in 2007. Gordon joins a select club of players who have won the national championship as a freshman, including Ben Crenshaw, Curtis Strange, and Phil Mickelson. Sargent is the second freshman to win an NCAA medal in the span of a week, following Stanford’s Rose Zhang.
Sargent is the only other Commodore to win an individual national championship in Vanderbilt history, joining Ryan Tolbert (track and field). Sargent said of the playoff with a giggle, “You’re hoping everyone else misses, but you feel like you have to make it.” “Even if everyone else misses, you have to seize the opportunity, and coach and I had an excellent read on it, and it luckily caught the left side and fell in.”
Sargent added that it was a tough day, but he stuck to the game plan and managed expectations well. Sargent appeared less ecstatic than one might expect from a national champion and said he still got work to do. With another national championship on the line, he will lead Vanderbilt into the eight-team match-play competition that begins on Tuesday. In team play, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma State, Pepperdine, Arizona State, and Texas Tech will join top-seeded Vandy. The eight institutions were ranked in the top eight entering the week, which was impressive.
It will be difficult for the team event to match the intensity of the individual title, which took place late in the afternoon. On the 72nd hole, there was a five-way tie for the lead at even par, with two groups (Coody and Burnett) having completed their rounds and the threesome of Sargent, Chacarra, and Oklahoma’s Chris Gotterup playing the 18th hole.
None of the five was able to beat par. Coody and Burnett shot the 70s, Chacarra shot 72, while Sargent and Gotterup shot 74s. With an 18th-hole bogey, Gotterup missed the playoff, while Sargent and Chacarra made pars to join the group that went to overtime.
Given his birdie-free 74, Sargent, who had a one-shot lead going into the final round, would not have been the favourite heading into the playoff. On the other hand, his freshman season indicated that he was unlikely to wilt.
He is ranked 14th in the world and is a Haskins Award nominee, and he lived up to his reputation on the extra hole. His tee shot found the right rough, and he stiffened his approach to set up the game-winning putt.
In the meantime, Chacarra and Coody both hit their tee shots into a fairway bunker, and none of their approach shots found the green. Burnett also touched the green in two, but he left himself a 30-footer that he couldn’t make.