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Golf team hopes to recreate championship from 50 years ago

Chico+State+men%27s+golf+team+winning+its+first+ever+NCAA+Division+II+men%27s+championship.+Photo+credit%3A+T.L.+Brown
Chico State men's golf team winning its first ever NCAA Division II men's championship. Photo credit: T.L. Brown

Chico State men's golf team winning its first ever NCAA Division II men's championship. Photo credit: T.L. Brown

Chico State men's golf team winning its first ever NCAA Division II men's championship. Photo credit: T.L. Brown

Jason Spies

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Fifty years ago the Chico State men’s golf team won the NCAA championship. This year, the men’s team looks eerily similar to the team that won it back in 1966.

One of the best ways to celebrate that amazing victory would be to win a championship this year on the anniversary, and that is exactly what they plan on doing.

Senior All-American Alistair Docherty knows that bringing home an NCAA championship on the anniversary of the last time that it happened would be something special.

“Everyone on the team knows that this is the 50-year anniversary of the last time the men’s golf team won the championship,” Docherty said. “We all want to win it but to do it on the 50-year anniversary would make it even more special.”

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Chico State men’s golf team celebrates a second place finish at the Cal State San Marcos Cougar Invitational. Photo credit: T.L. Brown

50 years ago

Golf has changed a lot since Chico State last won the NCAA championship. Men’s coach T.L. Brown thinks winning a championship today might be harder than it was back then.

“The game is a lot more difficult now than it was back then,” Brown said. “Whether it’s the equipment, courses, rules or the talent level of the players, you can’t just go out and play 72-holes of golf like they did back then.”

In 1966, that is exactly how the format was for the NCAA Division II men’s golf championship. It was a 72-hole stroke play team competition, with an individual award for the lowest scoring individual competitor.

Rob Shultz, Bill Barkhurst and Jess Crawford were the big three who helped win the title for Chico State back in 1966. Barkhurst shot a team best 73 at 1-over par, teammates Shultz and Crawford shot 76 and 79 respectively, to give the Wildcats a winning total of 1206.

Chico State started the last day of the tournament four strokes behind the leader, Lamar State College of Technology, but came through in the end to grab its first ever NCAA Championship.

The team today

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Two-time All-American senior Alistair Docherty tees off for the Wildcats. Photo credit: T.L. Brown

 

 

As of today, the Wildcats are currently ranked second in the nation behind Cal State Monterey Bay. Through the first half of the season, Chico State played in four tournaments and had two first place finishes and two second place finishes. So far in the second half of the season they have placed second two times.

The team that won the championship 50 years ago won every tournament except for one in which they got second place.

On April 14, the men’s golf team will be hosting a celebration dinner in honor of that team and its accomplishments. Attendees will also be able to meet the players that are on the team now and some that were on the team 50 years ago.
Senior Lee Gearhart has two first place finishes to start the spring portion of the season and hopes to keep his hot streak going as they get closer to playoffs.

“The biggest motivation for me, Alistair and Matt, is that we are seniors and this is our last chance at winning a title,” Gearhart said. “We want to bring a championship back home to our school where it hasn’t been in a long time.”

Jason Spies can be reached at [email protected] or @Jason_Spies on Twitter.

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Golf team hopes to recreate championship from 50 years ago