Broc Everett, the 2017-18 NCAA champion (Augusta University photo)
By Sean Martin
STILLWATER, Okla. – Perhaps you’ve heard this one before. A late bloomer from Iowa with a strong wedge game scores an upset in the game’s biggest tournament.
That statement aptly describes Zach Johnson’s victory in the 2007 Masters. Broc Everett’s win Monday in the NCAA Championship also fits that bill.
Everett, a fifth-year senior at Augusta, closed his college career in the best way possible, with a dramatic victory at Karsten Creek Golf Club. Playing in the final group, alongside the imposing presence of the best player in college golf (Norman Xiong), Everett shot a final-round 72 at Karsten Creek to finish at 7-under 281 (72-66-71-72) before beating Auburn freshman Brandon Mancheno in a playoff between two left-handers.
“It's an incredible feeling really,” Everett said. “I can't even describe it honestly right now.”
Everett had a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th to win the title in regulation. He hit it through the break, though, and went to a playoff with the long-hitting Mancheno, who was able to go for the 18th green in two shots.
Everett laid up in the playoff, just as he’d done in regulation, before wedging to 15 feet. Mancheno’s second shot came to rest against a tree right of the green. He punched through the green before chipping it close, but never got the opportunity to attempt his par putt. Everett sank the birdie putt to join the impressive list of players who have won the NCAA Championship.
“His wedge game was awesome this week,” said Augusta head coach Jack O’Keefe. “His putting was excellent. He made seven bogeys all week and no doubles. We … made good decisions all the time and took what the golf course gave us.”
This was the second consecutive NCAA title for Augusta at Karsten Creek. The 2011 team, led by Patrick Reed, won the team title in Stillwater. This was the first collegiate victory for Everett, who entered the week ranked 153rd in Golfweek’s rankings.
The Iowa native saved his best for last, though, finishing in the top 3 in his three starts prior to the NCAA Championship. He finished third against a strong field at Augusta’s home event, the 3M Collegiate Invitational, was runner-up in Augusta’s conference championship and runner-up to Ben Hogan Award winner Doug Ghim in the NCAA Raleigh Regional.
Everett was a four-sport athlete in West Des Moines, Iowa, who debated between playing baseball or golf in college. He redshirt his first season at Augusta, which is when O’Keefe arrived as the Jaguars’ head coach. The interim coach told O’Keefe that he may not have much use for this lanky left-hander from the Hawkeye State.
“‘Yeah, he might not be a guy you keep around another year,’” the interim coach said, according to Everett. “(O’Keefe) saw that I worked hard every day and that I didn’t settle for just staying the same way. I was always trying to progress and keep getting better. Coach gave me the opportunity to stick around and just keep growing every single year.”
Everett will waste no time leaping into the pro game. He’s scheduled to make his pro debut Thursday in the first event of the season on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada.
He can draw inspiration from Johnson, who grew up in Des Moines and played at a small school, Drake, before spending several years on the mini-tours. He had just one PGA TOUR win and was ranked outside the top 50 in the world when he won at Augusta National in 2007.
“If you're from Iowa, you're a Zach Johnson fan, and Zach is obviously a huge role model,” Everett said. “You know if you can go from Iowa and win majors like he has, anybody can do it. He's been a huge role model for sure.”
Perseverance, and a strong wedge game, paid off for Zach Johnson. And for Broc Everett.
ABOUT THE NCAA Division I Championship
30 teams and 6 individuals not on a qualifying
team make up the field for the championship of
Division I women's golf.
After 72 holes of stroke play, the individual
champion is crowned, and the low 8 teams advance
match play to determine the team champion.
View Complete Tournament Information