WASHINGTON (DC News Now) – Howard University men’s golf team won the PGA Works Collegiate Championship for the second year in a row. Three Bison finished in the top three and together the team beat the runner-up by 57 strokes.
The event was nationally televised for the first time ever on the Golf Channel, with the entire country able to witness the Bison dominate on the links.
Especially Everett Whiten, who finished first overall after finishing the tournament at 14-under.
“What we did as a team and myself to know that we all kind of put it together at that tournament on TV,” says Whiten, “I guess it was just it was kind of surreal.”
Ahead of winning the tournament in Alabama, the Bison had finished second place in the Northeast Conference tournament. Disappointed, the Bison decided to use that as fuel the following week where they broke a team record shooting seven under in one round.
“We just took that tournament and we put it to PGA Works and we knew we had to go do and we just wanted to go and just kill the competition,” says Everett.
Three years ago, a golf program didn’t exist at Howard, and head coach Sam Puryear had to start from scratch.
“I’m working with Play-Doh” explains Puryear, “Play-doh and Legos and I’m carving it out.”
Now, the Bison are on the rise, and as a team, coach Puryear says they have beaten every local division one program this past season: that’s Maryland, Georgetown, George Mason, and George Washington.
“Considering we are new kids on the block, I look at those guys (local division one programs) as to where we can be, and the young people on his team have taken that to stride into heart and they realize I’m like, ‘Hey guys, we can be good’ if you do ABCD and E.”
Junior Marcus Smith Jr. finished in third place at the PGA Works, and he says that competitive practices are what built the strong foundation for the team.
“When you play against these guys and practice every day, you gotta eliminate the mistakes. You gotta be aggressive gotta make birdies, we really try to poke at things that we feel like we struggle at individually so that when it comes tournament time, our weaknesses, are our strengths.”
Only 19% of HBCUs with athletic programs have golf programs, the Bison hope that their success will inspire other HBCUs to start golf programs. Whiten hopes that it will open doors that will overall improve diversity in the sport.
“Having that ability to be five African Americans on this team that could play good golf, and we display that last week on TV and to show kids ‘hey, you can do it.’ You can go to Howard, I think we just got to keep pushing the needle for diversity.” I think Howard’s a great place to do it”
As coach Puryear looks to push the golf team towards even more success in the future, he hopes to bring other programs in the community along with them.
“I’ve gotten so many calls from elementary schools and junior golf programs in the last few days because people are like ‘Hey, you’ve introduced these young brown and black people can you introduce ours?’ I feel like I have an obligation to reach back and reach out and grab some of these young folk to show them what is possible.”