Hitchner Ties for 1st at Prestige Invitational, But Loses Playoff
February 18, 2021
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Derek Hitchner rallied from two shots behind with two holes remaining on Wednesday to tie for first at the Prestige Individual Invitational, but the Pepperdine junior lost the playoff when A.J. Ott birdied the first extra hole.
Ott is a fifth-year senior at Colorado State (after the 2019-20 season was suspended in March, a result of the Covid 19 pandemic, and all conference and NCAA championship tournaments were cancelled, the NCAA granted the affected seniors an extra year of eligibility). He started the final round five stroke behind the 36-hole leader, Hazen Newman of Oklahoma State.
Hazen struggled on Wednesday, and Ott played the first 12 holes at Coral Mountain Golf Club in 3 under par. He and Hitchner, a former MGA Junior Player of the Year (2017), were still two behind Hitchner's Pepperdine teammate Austin Murphy with five holes to go. But Murphy, who was 12 under for the tournament at that point, surrendered his lead with three consecutive bogeys at the 14th (444 yards, par 4), 15th (423, par 4) and16th (529, par 5).
Ott birdied those same three holes to get to 13 under, which put him four ahead of Murphy. Hitchner matched Ott's birdie at the 16th to remain two behind. He then gained a stroke on Ott with a par 3 at the 206-yard 17th, and another with a birdie at the 523-yard, par-5 18th.
Ott, who is No. 23 in the Golfweek NCAA Division I Individual Rankings, and Hitchner (83) both finished 54 holes with totals of 204 (minus 12). (The Golfweek rankings are missing players because they don't include those from teams such as Minnesota that didn't play during the fall.)
Despite his bogey at the 17th, Ott equaled the low score of the day, a 5-under 67. Hitchner, who won the 2016 Minnesota state Class AA high schoool championship when he was a sophomore at Blake, led after a first-round 65 on Monday. He followed that with a 69, and his birdies at the 16th and 18th on Wednesday gave him a closing 70.
Murphy's bogey binge down the stretch resulted in a 72 and dropped him back into a tie for third at 207, along with Colorado State's Cullen Plousha, who shot 68. Pepperdine's Clay Feagler matched Ott's 67 and finished alone in fifth at 208. Newman could do no better than 77, and he ended up solo sixth with a 209.
Denver's Brady Arnett, a sophomore from St. Thomas Academy, was also in the tournament. He put together a 220 (73-72-75) and tied for 32nd.
MEN'S COLLEGE GOLF
Prestige Individual Invitational
At Coral Mountain Golf Club
Par 72, 7,145 yards
La Quinta, Calif.
1. A.J. Ott, Colorado State 69-68-67--204* (won playoff with birdie on first extra hole)
2. Derek Hitchner, Pepperdine 65-69-70--204
T3. Cullen Plousha, Colo. State 71-68-68--207
T3. Austin Murphy, Colo. State 60-65-72--207
5. Clay Feagler, Pepperdine 71-70-67--208
6. Hazen Newman, Okla. State 69-63-77--209
T32. Brady Arnett, Denver 73-72-75--220