SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — After the first round of play at the 2022 NCAA Div. I Men’s Golf Championship, just seven players and zero teams were under par. Just 12 hours later the tale of the title race is vastly different.
In the second round’s morning wave alone there were nine players in the clubhouse under par on the day, as well as two teams.
Nobody was better than the top-ranked Oklahoma Sooners, who shot 5 under as a squad to move into first place on the team leaderboard. The boys from Norman were led by redshirt senior Chris Gotterup, who rose to T-6 on the individual leaderboard with a 4-under 66. The transfer from Rutgers was bogey-free through his first 14 holes, with his lone blemish coming on the par-4 15th.
“You know, I got off to a really good start compared to yesterday, when I got off to a really bad start,” explained Gotterup. “So that’s kind of what I talked about with coach, about getting ready to get off to a hot start and I did that. If you can get into a good spot early on this course, it’s a little stress-free. But if you’re in a bad spot, it can really get you.”
“To be honest with you, we started out not great and really kicked into high gear whenever we made the turn. We made some big birdies over here on 9, 10 and 11,” added head coach Ryan Hybl, who noted how Saturday’s second-round pin locations were more favorable compared to the first round. “Patrick Welch and Drew Goodman out front, they got some momentum going, (Chris Gotterup) just looked like he was playing kind of solid all day long, same thing with Logan (McAllister) as well. Just played really good golf all day.”
The Sooners’ not-so-friendly neighbors to the north in Stillwater had a solid round, as well. The Oklahoma State Cowboys were the second-best team in the morning, going 3 under as a team to climb into the top five. The Cowboys were propelled by senior Aman Gupta, who shot the low round of the morning at 5-under 65 thanks to a four birdie, bogey-free back nine.
“Hit it in the junk on No. 4 and made bogey, three-putted No. 5 and I was like, ‘Wow, I’m 5 over on the leaderboard right now, I better start doing something,’” said Gupta of his 2-over through five start. He proceeded to “stuff it’” on Nos. 7-11 where he made five consecutive birdies and added a pair on Nos. 14 and 15 as well. “It was just one of those things where as long as I trusted what I was doing and didn’t try to overthink it and just didn’t get too caught up in where I stood that it was gonna be a pretty good day, and it was really good.”
The star of the day was Wake Forest’s Alex Fitzpatrick, who was a late sub from the first-round lineup due to a stomach bug. He only played a few holes during Thursday’s practice round and didn’t feel like he could play a full 18 on Friday. After a couple days of rest, the senior was back in the lineup on Saturday and immediately made his presence felt with the week’s first bogey-free round, a 5-under 65 to match Gupta.
“I can’t say I feel 100% which I know is probably silly after the round I just played but still, I had had some food on the course my stomach still wasn’t feeling great, but felt like I needed to play and glad I got it worked out,” said Fitzpatrick of his round, which will assuredly be one of few without a bogey this week at the tricky track in the desert.
“I think your I discipline has got to be pretty good around here,” said Fitzpatrick, who missed just one fairway and used mostly irons off the tee. “I think a lot of guys will try to overpower the course with 3-woods and drivers. I mean, I didn’t hit a driver until No. 11.”
With Fitzpatrick’s 5 under not counting in the race for an individual title due to his first-round WD, Vanderbilt’s Cole Sherwood sits in first place at 3 under, followed by teammate Gordon Sargent and Gupta at 2 under. Gotterup and Liberty’s Kieran Vincent are T-4 at 1 under.