Remembering his bogeys, David Wicks (and Jacksonville) defend men's title at Golfweek Program Challenge

David Wicks, shown during the 2016 Atlantic Sun Championship

Remembering his bogeys, David Wicks (and Jacksonville) defend men's title at Golfweek Program Challenge

Men

Remembering his bogeys, David Wicks (and Jacksonville) defend men's title at Golfweek Program Challenge

Final Scores: Men | Women

PAWLEYS ISLAND, S.C. – David Wicks has a really good memory. Incredible, really.

It’s also selective, and the way he puts it at first, that seems like a problem.

Wicks, a Jacksonville senior who hails from Bexhill, England, won the men’s individual title last year at the Golfweek Program Challenge.

But when he returned to True Blue Golf Club for this year’s event, he had trouble recalling many of the birdies in his 2015 win but could vividly envision all of the mistakes he made that week.

“Playing the practice round Saturday, I could remember my bogeys (from the 2015 event),” Wicks said. “I could remember why I made bogey, what I was doing wrong.”

So how’d that mindset sink him in his title defense? Well, it didn’t.

The Englishman fired a closing 4-under 68 Tuesday at True Blue Golf Club to post 13 under and take a two-shot victory at the 54-hole Golfweek Program Challenge.

If that sounds too familiar, Wicks also won this event at 13 under last year. And his margin was pretty similar, as he earned a one-shot victory in 2015.

Wicks went bogey-free for 42 straight holes before putting up a sloppy bogey at the par-4 17th in the final round. But when he fired his approach shot to 7 feet at 18 and two-putted, he had still played his final 36 holes in 10 under and earned his third victory since joining Jacksonville in 2015-16.

Two of those wins have now come at the Golfweek Program Challenge, which makes him ponder…

“I wish (our schedule) was all run by Golfweek,” Wicks said. “Golfweek would run every event for us. We’d stay in villas, it would be nice.”

His teammates may be inclined to such a life, too. Like Wicks, Jacksonville captured the men’s portion of the Golfweek Program Challenge for the second consecutive year. The Dolphins began the day one ahead of James Madison and built the cushion to four over Campbell in finishing 32 under.

It wasn’t the seven-shot margin in last year’s triumph, but yeah, this is a welcome follow-up.

“Fifteen rounds from our guys and 13 were at par or better,” said Mike Blackburn, men’s head coach at Jacksonville. “Just real consistent play. I’m real proud of them.”

Indeed, it wasn’t all Wicks. Raul Pereda, who almost quit the team last winter, proved how invigorated his mindset and game were as he closed in 67 to open his junior season with a tie for second at 11 under. Ryan Jahn (4 under, T-16) and Elliott Fullalove (3 under, T-19) also finished under par for the week, with Sam Uhland (1 over, T-37) being the sole Dolphin not to break par over 54 holes at True Blue.

Still, Wicks was once again the main attraction. There’s just something about True Blue for him. Wicks said the relaxed atmosphere of the week suits him, as does the course setup. The Englishman, who transferred to Jacksonville in 2015 from Midland (Texas) Junior College, says driving is the weakest part of his game. You can get away with a wild tee ball at True Blue, which offers wide fairways.

Oddly, though, Wicks’ play off the tee was stellar most of the week, and the best tool in his arsenal, his putter, let him down a bit. It got better on Tuesday, when Wicks, starting the day one behind 36-hole co-leaders Camilo Aguado (Jacksonville State) and Thomas LaMorte (Campbell), holed a 25-footer for birdie at No. 1. He two-putted the fourth for another and rolled in consecutive six-footers at Nos. 5 and 6 to shoot out to 4 under on his round early. He actually got to 5 under for the day at the 10th after missing a 4-foot eagle putt.

Most of all, though, it was the thoughts of last year’s mistakes that kept him rolling. The errors mostly consisted of bouts of ill-advised aggressiveness. This time, he took a more conservative approach, and while his final standing was the same, he posted just two bogeys this week compared to four (along with a double bogey) at last year’s event.

So, in the end, the dwelling on his worst moments at True Blue…

“I think that was the best thing for me,” Wicks said.

It’s certainly a promising start for a senior who won twice in 2015-16, also capturing the Atlantic Sun Championship, but finished his first year of Division I golf 222nd in Golfweek’s rankings.

“He’s a special young man,” Blackburn said. “He’s got a will to win that overcomes a lot of obstacles when he’s in the zone.”

Oh, and he’s got another special talent, apparently. Wicks doesn’t fancy himself a chef but is confident that his fish ‘n’ chips is better than any meal his teammates can cook.

His coach can’t be the judge quite yet.

“I have not (tried it), actually,” Blackburn said, with a laugh. “We’ll probably do that one day.”

If Wicks’ staple dish is as good as his play at True Blue, then Blackburn is in for an amazing experience.

• • •

Here are the final standings at the Golfweek Program Challenge:

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Place School Men Women Total
1 Campbell -28 +14 -14
2 Jacksonville -32 +43 +11
3 Boston College +6 +13 +19
4 James Madison -22 +50 +28
5 Jacksonville State -15 +48 +33
6 Morehead State +5 +36 +41
7 Gardner-Webb -22 +64 +42
8 Mercer -20 +64 +44
9 Stetson -15 +75 +60
10 Houston Baptist +3 +69 +72
11 Tennessee Tech +22 +68 +90
12 Elon +5 +92 +97
13 Western Carolina +15 +86 +101
14 Valparaiso +16 +95 +111
15 Radford -3 +119 +116
16 Xavier +37 +80 +117

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