It was never going to be easy for Jacksonville to get its first NCAA Championship berth, but did it need to be this hard? Or … bizarre?
The Dolphins fired a 1-over 289, the round of the day, in Wednesday’s final round of the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional to qualify for the NCAA Championship – to be played at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Ill., from May 26-31.
Jacksonville, the regional’s seven seed, began the day six shots back of the top-five cut to advance and was as many as 10 behind during the final 18. But the Dolphins found a way to come back, eventually forcing a playoff for the final spot with Northwestern and winning the sudden-death action on the second hole to earn their first nationals trip.
That all seemed crazy enough. Then there was this…
David Wicks, Jacksonville’s best player, faced an almost unbelievable predicament Wednesday at The University Club in Baton Rouge, La.
The senior was facing a 3-footer for par at the fourth hole (his 13th of the round), when the incident happened.
Per JUDolphins.com, Wicks placed the ball in his pocket after putting up to that three-foot range. While his partners putted out before he would try his own par effort, Wicks retreated toward a bunker.
He reached for his scorecard in his pocket only for his ball to accidentally fall out. OK, no big de– and then the ball kicked off one of Wicks’ shoes and trundled into a lake right behind the bunker!
For real. And it gets even stranger.
After the ball rolled into the water, Wicks had five minutes to retrieve it in order for it not to be considered a lost ball. If he couldn’t do so within five minutes, he would have to proceed with a substitute ball … under a two-stroke penalty.
It’s a situation Dustin Johnson dealt with at last year’s Players Championship, with a happy result in the end.
Knowing the stakes, Wicks had no choice: He had to jump in the water to try to find his ball. And because the water had some depth, he had to strip down to his underwear to do so.
We’re not making this up, Wicks posted video proof:
That. Is. Commitment.
While Wicks did find numerous golf balls there, he unfortunately didn’t find his own ball within five minutes – and had to take a two-stroke penalty.
“It was just a stroke of bad luck. After the 5-minute period ended, the rules officials gave him a two-stroke penalty, which really could’ve hampered our comeback,” said Mike Blackburn, Jacksonville’s head coach. “But David rebounded, finishing the day with five straight pars to keep us in the race.”
Indeed, Wicks would also par both playoff holes to help Jacksonville advance. He finished the week as the Dolphins’ top scorer – posting at 3 over for T-7.
Regardless, unfortunate that he got the penalty anyway. Here’s a full video of how this crazy scenario unfolded.
If you want to know a little more about Wicks than “that college golfer who stripped to his underwear,” he’s currently No. 52 in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings and has won the last two Golfweek Program Challenges (here’s the report on his 2016 win).
But hey, if Wicks does become known as the underwear guy, it’s better than being the player who didn’t give it his all with a chance at nationals on the line.
Whatever Wicks had to do, the team made history. Onto nationals the Dolphins go, hopefully with all their clothes intact.