It’s been a stretch of golf unlike anything ever produced by a Jersey Shore player.
And it looks like just the start for Little Silver’s Chris Gotterup.
On Tuesday, Gotterup, who played his final season at Oklahoma after a standout career at Rutgers, was named the recipient of the Haskins Award, given annually to the top college golfer in the country.
“I definitely thought I could come in and play well. But I don’t think I expected to end up being No. 1,” he said.
Gotterup, ranked as the nation’s top player by Golfweek, won the East Lake Cup and the Puerto Rico Classic, while finishing runner-up at the Big 12 Championship and one stroke back at the NCAA Championships.
And that victory at the Puerto Rico Classic earned him a spot in the PGA Tour’s Puerto Rico Open, where he finished tied for seventh.
Heading to the PGA Tour
Speaking of the PGA Tour, Gotterup will turn pro this week and has sponsor’s exemptions into three events over the next month, including next week’s RBC Canadian. And he’ll be looking to secure a spot two weeks from now at the U.S. Open at Monday’s sectional qualifier in Purchase, New York.
And by finishing seventh in the PGA Tour University rankings, he has an exemption on a PGA Tour international tour waiting for him.
Clearly, the decision to transfer to Oklahoma was a life-changing decision for Gotterup, the 2019 Big Ten Player of the Year.
“The toughest part wasn’t picking Oklahoma. The toughest part was leaving Rutgers,” he said. “Because I built myself there, I changed who I was and changed my game there. And with the COVID year we were given I felt it was the best decision for me to try something else. I did my four years at Rutgers and I loved it, but the opportunity was there and I felt like I had to take it.”
To say he took advantage of that opportunity would be an understatement.
Oklahoma head coach Ryan Hybl and Chris Gotterup. (Photo: Oklahoma Men’s Golf)
In all, the former CBA standout had 10 top-10 finishes for the Sooners. And at the NCAA Championship that concluded earlier this week in Scottsdale, Arizona, he finished one shot out of a playoff to decide the individual champion, while the Sooners finished tied for the lowest team score.
The move to the deep end of the college golf talent pool was simply a necessary step in his development of a player whose resume includes wins at the New Jersey Open and MGA Amateur.
“That was my whole thought process,” Gotterup said. “I grew up in New Jersey, I played in New Jersey at school. I knew if I wanted to take the next step, I’ve got to challenge myself. Travel somewhere else pretty far away from home and test myself against the best players, and in difficult conditions. Oklahoma, it can be pretty brutal conditions and it definitely made me more well-rounded.”
Nothing showcased the level of the former Shore Conference champion’s play like his performance against PGA Tour-caliber competition in Puerto Rico in early March, finishing at 11-under-par while hanging at or near the top of the leaderboard throughout.
“That was a crazy week,” he said. “We’re traveling all over the place, I was not sure what was going on. And then to get down there and play well on the big stage was awesome.
“It’s funny. I’ve always had people telling me ‘you’re going to play well, you’re going to do amazing things,’ and you never really believe it because it hasn’t really happened. But then for it to kind of happen it’s kind of wild, it’s a weird feeling — I don’t know how to describe it but it definitely gives you confidence and you feel like you’re in a better spot.”
And given what Gotterup accomplished during his final college season, the sky’s the limit as he makes the jump to the sport’s highest level.