I remember it like it was yesterday.
It was a typical summer of amateur golf, visiting family back home, and preparing to return to Oklahoma for the start of my junior year.
But in one life-altering moment, everything in my world changed.
My father passed away unexpectedly.
I was devastated.
And needless to say, returning to school and the golf team was the furthest thing from my mind.
But in the most trying time of my life, over those heart-wrenching days, weeks and months, I relied on my OU family and all the support I had access to at Oklahoma.
Losing him was incredibly difficult. My Dad was one of my best friends and was the one who put a golf club in my hand when I was a kid. I wasn’t sure how to move forward after such a crippling loss. I needed support to help me through it.
Honestly, I don’t know where I would be today if it weren’t for OU.
When the news about my Dad hit, it was my mom who convinced me to return to campus and continue what I had started.
The second I got back to Norman, my teammates wrapped their arms around me and did everything they could to make my days routine.
Whether it was golfing, going out to fish, or just hanging out, they ensured they were there for me.
My coaches also checked on me constantly and did everything they could to offer support, guidance, and understanding. They were always there for me when I needed them most.
In those months after he passed, I was uncertain what the future held for me.
If I’m really honest with myself, I can say that I don’t know that I believe that golf was in my future.
But as I continued to look for ways forward, I was introduced to a sports psychologist here at OU.
It changed everything.
They helped me understand that I was so much more than a golfer. For years, my identity was golf, and this tragedy had rocked me. As I worked through those feelings, they helped me learn who I was, making me realize that I needed to keep playing golf. It’s what my Dad would’ve wanted.
For the love of the game. For the love of my Dad. For me.
A breath of fresh air
My love and passion for this incredible sport began early in my life.
When I was just two or three years old, I remember my Dad buying me a set of plastic golf clubs; the rest is history.
I would run all over the house hitting those plastic golf balls, and he would take me to the course where I’d join him on the putting green.
And when I was five years old, I sat in my living room with my Dad and watched Tiger Woods chip in on the 16th in the 2005 Masters. The greatest shot in the tournament’s history was the moment that changed it all for me.
This iconic moment only deepened my love for the sport. It showed me that it was what I wanted to do.
I was all in — all on golf and all in on me.
By the time I was 13, I was playing on junior national teams and traveling to tournaments nationwide. As a result, I had the opportunity to meet and interact with some of the best young golfers, many of whom had already decided on a college path and were planning their futures in the sport.
I even won the 2014 Drive, Chip and Putt Championship at Augusta National, which means I also had a green jacket, just like Tiger Woods.
It made me think about my future, too, you know?
The following years consisted of college visits and conversations with coaches from all across the country.
The process was long, incredibly stressful, and often difficult to navigate.
But when I stepped on campus here at OU, everything clicked.
On my first official visit, I instantly felt that what Coach Hybl had built was different. The energy and spirit of this place was different. It was a family.
Of course, I wanted to be part of it. So, in May of 2017, I called Coach, ended my recruitment early and told him I was coming to Norman. I was going to be a Sooner.
Time and time again, I am reminded of what an impactful decision that was.
Now, as a fifth-year senior, I can’t help but reflect on the journey occasionally. I’ve been through so much on and off the course in my time at OU.
I played great golf during my first two years at OU. Then after my Dad passed, I struggled to find my game again before winning the East Lake Cup a few months after he passed – my first college win. I’ve always said I could feel him with me as I walked the back nine that day. Then I struggled again and even missed out on making the lineup a few times.
I didn’t find success in my game again until the spring of 2022. We were playing in Las Vegas, and I finally got over the hump again and won the Southern Highlands Collegiate. I’ll never forget that feeling of just relief.
My teammates rushed the 18th green and showered me with ice-cold water bottles. They hugged me, told me how proud they were and congratulated me. Coach Hybl and Coach Allcorn shared really special moments with me on that 18th green after I won. I just remember thinking afterward about how special this was. I’d been through the normal ups and downs of golf, my father’s passing, my family moving across the country, and a global pandemic – but here I was, with my OU family and celebrating again.
Nothing I’ve accomplished or overcome would’ve been possible without access to world-class facilities and resources at Oklahoma. This university and athletics department has given me every tool I need to be successful on and off the course.
Without everything OU has done for me, I have no idea where I’d be right now.
Whether it’s playing during the week with teammates on the challenging Ransom Short Course or using the recovery resources that we have, I’m a better golfer because I came to Norman.
On top of all that, we get to travel all over the world, allowing us to grow up as players and human beings. Those experiences of traveling with the guys have created relationships I’ll have forever.
It puts me in a remarkable position to live out my dreams, and I am beyond grateful for that.
All of this was possible because I called Coach Hybl in May of 2017 and told him I wanted to be part of this Sooner family.
As it sits right now, I’m ranked eighth in the PGA TOUR University rankings, which means I’m on a direct path to play professional golf after this season.
In my time at OU, I’ve been an All-American, All-Big 12 golfer. We’ve lifted trophies and played for national titles. With help from my coaches and others, I’ve been lucky enough to get into the record books at this prestigious university.
I’ve taken my golfing abilities to a level that I never knew was possible, and I have immense pride to have done it all as a Sooner.
As I look ahead, I plan to continue chasing my dreams of one day being a member of the PGA Tour and golfing professionally.
I will make Norman my home base after graduation for the next few years. Ironically, growing up in California for most of my childhood, I never imagined that I’d live anywhere else.
But Oklahoma has changed that for me, and I’ve completely fallen in love with this community. I’ve got former teammates that have graduated and are playing professionally but are still based in this area.
After everything that OU and I have been through together, it would feel wrong to leave this place. I owe everything to the Crimson and Cream.
I would not be in the position I am today without this university, these coaches and teammates, and the incredible people who surround and support us every step.
It is a special place that has helped me rediscover a passion and saw me through one of the most difficult times in my life.
Whatever my future holds, I’ll always be grateful that I’m a Sooner. No matter where I go in the future, I hope that this OU family knows that I’m proud to represent them.