Cory Whitsett excels in classroom, on course

Cory+Whitsett+excels+in+classroom%2C+on+course

Nick Sellers

If upcoming senior Cory Whitsett’s legacy at The University of Alabama wasn’t already established, the past two weeks have certainly put the Crimson Tide golfer in an elite batch of student-athletes at the Capstone.

Whitsett, a Houston, Texas, native, was awarded the NCAA Elite 89 award immediately prior to the NCAA Men’s Golf Championships in Atlanta, Ga. Less than a week later, Whitsett clinched the Tide’s first men’s golf national championship by sinking a putt on the 15th hole, defeating Illinois golfer Alex Burge in the last group.

The award, his second consecutive, gave Whitsett the distinct honor of being the only Division 1 golfer to win more than once. The Elite 89 honor recognizes golfers in the college ranks who have excelled both on the golf course and in the classroom. Whitsett, majoring in management, holds a 4.0 GPA.

“It’s great to receive the award again,” Whitsett said. “There’s so many great student-athletes excelling in the classroom, and it feels great to be honored as one of them.

“It really makes those long nights of studying worth it.”

However, unlike his team’s performance this year at the men’s championships, Whitsett did not clinch the top spot for his squad last year. With the team riding on his shoulders, Whitsett could not seal the deal in the 2012 championships.

Redeeming himself of last year’s performance was more than vindication, Whitsett said.

“It was really great to see the players come back and learn from that experience,” Whitsett said. “I was so nervous from losing last year. It’s just great to come back and perform like that for the team.”

Whitsett said the triumphs he has recently enjoyed have come after some soul-searching and self accountability.

“Fall [season] wasn’t great,” Whitsett said. “I wasn’t hitting the ball right. I just had to trust myself and believe in my abilities. I didn’t make any adjustments to my play necessarily, just my mindset.”

The change paid dividends for the Tide athlete, as Whitsett finished the season as Alabama’s scoring leader, with a 71.26 average. On April 30, Whitsett was named SEC Golfer of the Year.

The fourth-ranked collegiate golfer figures to play another key role in the Tide’s 2013 campaign but said he’s still enjoying the success of the moment.

“I haven’t really thought about it,” he said. “I definitely will have to be more of a leader; we have some recruits coming in, and there’s still some young guys on the team, so I would hope to pursue that role.”

Whitsett won’t be alone in that role, with fellow golfer and roommate Bobby Wyatt, another upcoming senior, swinging right beside him. Wyatt was also up for the Elite 89 award this year.

“I mean, Bobby is definitely deserving of the award as well,” Whitsett said. “We have the same major, same GPA, so it’s great to have him golfing with me.”

Another national championship and more awards are possible for the young golfer. A promising professional career is likely. For now though, the Texan’s mark is etched clearly at Alabama.