Men’s golfer plays on sport’s biggest stage

OSU junior Spencer Tibbits golfs in the spring of 2019 to help lead him to his time in the U.S. Amateur Championship and with the U.S. Open in June 2019. 

Soren Carr, Sports Contributor

The Oregon State Men’s Golf team is off to one of their hottest starts in program history, winning three consecutive team tournaments, including Oct 14-15 at Trysting Tree golf course in Corvallis.  A large reason for the teams success comes from junior Spencer Tibbits, who already has two individual titles this fall season, and a historic summer under his belt.   

Few athletes have the ability to reach the top of their respective sports at a young age, let alone a whole lifetime. Tibbits achieved this feat, following his sophomore season for the Oregon State Men’s Golf team.

This past June, Tibbits qualified for the United States Open Championship at  Pebble Beach Golf Links outside of San Francisco, Calif.

“Obviously, it has been one of my dreams since I grew up,” Tibbits said.  “It was the best week of my life so far, and definitely won’t be my last.” 

It is this confidence that is providing Tibbits with expectations, and determination, after he implied that this won’t be his last appearance at the U.S. Open.

Tibbits grew up in Vancouver, Wash. across the river from Portland, and got into golf when he was just three years old. 

“My dad would take me to the golf course when I was younger,” said Tibbits.  It wouldn’t be long until he began competitive play, as he registered and competed in tournaments in the Portland area at the age of six.

Tibbits’ role model at a young age was Tiger Woods, as he grew up watching him dominate the game.

“He not only got myself into the game, but also so many more people into it,” said Tibbits.  

Woods’ ability to perform under pressure, noted work ethic, and competitive fire are qualities that Tibbits’ teammates recognize in him.  

“I’ve honestly never seen anything like it,” junior teammate Richie Mikesell said about Tibbits’ competitiveness. “He gets so locked in that I’ve never really seen in anyone before.” 

This focus has rubbed off on the rest of the  Men’s Golf team this fall as the Beavers have notched a trio of victories to begin their 2019-’20 campaign.  Tibbits has also been an individual champion in two of those tournaments, including the Husky Invitational in Bremerton, Wash. and the Wolf Pack Shootout in Reno, Nev.

Continuing the men’s golf team’s great play is sophomore Carson Barry, who won his first collegiate tournament this past week, noting “the sky’s the limit for this team. We’ve got a talented bunch.”

Tibbits success this summer didn’t just stop at playing in the U.S. Open. He also won the Oregon Amateur and qualified for the United States Amateur Championship, which is regarded as arguably the biggest amateur tournament in the world for golf.

“The U.S. AM was at another U.S. Open venue in Pinehurst, North Carolina,” Tibbits said. “They stretched out the course compared to the U.S. Open they had there a while back,” referring to the length and difficulty of the course, shooting one over for the two days of stroke play, finishing T-12th and qualifying for match play, but was knocked out early in the round of 64.

“Making match play in a U.S. AM is a big deal,” Tibbits said. “I just ran into a guy who was hot at the time and playing really well.”  

Tibbits mentioned that he left the tournament feeling good about his game despite his early exit, as he was encouraged by his recent play.  A similar experience in the U.S. Open gave him a reason for motivation. 

“I missed the cut by a shot, but was pleased with how I hung in there and managed my way around the course. This was a really good platform on learning how to compete, and believe in myself,” Tibbits said. “A lot of people believe I can play at that level. The drive doesn’t come from anyone, I was sort of born with it. I’ll do whatever it takes to be as good as I can and win.” 

Along with posting scores on the golf course, Tibbits opened up about the difficulties of balancing school, social life, and golf.  He was named as an All PAC-12 Academic Honorable Mention, all while prepping for a summer few collegiate golfers have ever accomplished.  

“Freshman year was tough. If you would’ve told me I’d make it to junior year, I’d be surprised,” Tibbits said. “I work extremely hard at what I do.  Win or lose, knowing that I put everything I can into it is everything.” 

Following the men’s golf team’s title at Trysting Tree golf course, they will travel to Monterey, Calif. for the Saint Mary’s Intercollegiate at Poppy Hills Golf Club for their final tournament of the fall stretch, Nov 4-5.

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