Influence of late coach Phillip Hatchett still inspires Billy Tom Sargent

Billy Tom Sargent WKU Athletics WKU Athletics

Influence of late coach Phillip Hatchett still inspires Billy Tom Sargent

College

Influence of late coach Phillip Hatchett still inspires Billy Tom Sargent

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Go get what you want.

That’s what the late Phillip Hatchett used to tell his players at Western Kentucky. On Thursday, Billy Tom Sargent will become the first Hilltopper to tee it up at the NCAA Division I Men’s Championship. Hatchett was killed on Father’s Day last summer in a tragic bike accident, but his words still echo in the mind of Sargent. There’s a patch on Sargent’s golf bag and a rubber bracelet on his wrist that says it all ­– P4C, “Play 4 Coach.”

“He was like a father to me,” said Sargent. “He was so good to me and good to everybody. He never had kids of his own, so we were like his kids.”

Sargent was playing a round of golf with own dad on Father’s Day when he got the news that a vehicle had struck and killed Hatchett while he was riding with other cyclists. He was 55.

Sargent and his teammates immediately traveled to Bowling Green. Hatchett played golf at Western Kentucky and graduated in 1985. He returned to his alma mater in 2010 and helped build a recent resurgence.

Western Kentucky’s Billy Tom Sargent and the late Phillip Hatchett.
(WKU Athletics)

Western Kentucky hired Chan Metts to take his place on Aug. 6, 2018.

“Coming in as head coach in the fall,” said Sargent, “he had the toughest job in golf.”

Metts credits the senior leadership in particular – Blake Smith, Stuart Easton and Sargent – for how the team responded.

“It can kind of make you go one of two directions as an individual and as a team when you go through tragedy like that,” said Metts. “Those guys had already made their mind up before I got there that they were not going to go down that negative road. They were going to take this, make sure that we came out on the other side of it better people, better players, better students.”

Western Kentucky finished in the top five in six of 10 events this season, rallying to put together one of the program’s strongest seasons in years.

Sargent won twice individually, giving him a share of the program record of five career victories. A redshirt senior, Sargent sat out his freshman year after he struck a deer over winter break while driving on an old country road, breaking his hand.

He sees the extra time he had at school to prepare him for life and the next level as a good thing.

Sargent’s greatest strength – he’s clutch.

At the NCAA regional in Athens, Ga., Sargent birdied the last two holes to get into a playoff for the lone individual spot to advance to the finals. He drained a 30-foot par putt on the third playoff hole to defeat Stephen Osborne of Nevada and make Hilltopper history.

“In the moments that you have to pull a shot off or play your best golf,” said Metts, “he can.”

Sargent said he’s always been the kind of guy who likes to look at a scoreboard.

“I just like knowing what I need to do,” he said.

Coach Chan Metts congratulates Billy Tom Sargent at the Athens regional. (University of Georgia Athletics)

He also prefers tough courses, which means that the Blessings should play to his favor.

The Hilltoppers dedicated this season to Hatchett, and the fact that Sargent made it to Fayetteville, Ark., shows the depth of his heart.

“We can’t let what happened, happen in vain,” said Metts, “and the only way to do that is to honor coach and do things the right way, the way that he taught them to do. And that’s what they’ve done.”

It’s showtime in Arkansas. Go get what you want.

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