Chattanooga Mocs senior took an improbable route to earn GCAA All-American honors (Photo Credit: GoMocs.com)
By Jim Horten, GoMocs.com
He got here by the slimmest of margins. He got to this point with his back against the wall after a slow start. No matter the journey, Chattanooga Mocs senior golfer Chris Robb is an All-American.
Robb definitely took the road less travelled. In fact, had the team not gotten into NCAA Regionals, allegedly as the last one in, this journey may never have started.
“He would have been on the bubble just as the team was,” Head Coach Mark Guhne noted. “He was in the 200’s in ranking. It would have been close.
“He had an amazing run to end the year and earned everything he got.”
Robb averaged 69.82 strokes per round shooting -12 on his final 11 cards. Prior to that in 26 rounds, he had a 74.12 scoring average.
It started at the Old Waverly Collegiate, where he shot five-over 77 to open the event. He ended up at +1 after rounds of 71 and 69 gave him a tie for 17th. He opened +2 (74) at the Southern Conference Championship and then took flight.
He was bogey-less over his final 38 holes at the league tourney, playing -10 over that span. His then career-best 65 in the final round allowed Robb to take runner-up honors at -8. That was followed by three strong rounds at Eugene Country Club, tying for third at +2 (212) at the NCAA Eugene Regional.
The path had another speed bump. He sat in the clubhouse waiting to see if he or his team would qualify for the NCAA Championships. The Mocs were three back, while he watched Pacific’s Byron Meth take a one-shot advantage for the individual berth with three holes to play.
South Carolina ended up five shots clear of Robb’s team so his last chance for nationals was in Meth’s hands. Liberty’s Niklas Lindstrom finished at +2 as well so both teams gathered at the ninth green to watch Meth finish.
That story has been told. Meth faltered and Robb was on the ropes to Lindstrom throughout the one playoff hole, but he still managed to out-battle him for the individual berth. That fighting spirit served him well in Kansas.
Robb looked to be in fine shape through 26 holes cruising along at -2. Bogeys at nine and 12 dropped him to even, but he was hitting fairways and greens and just needed the putter to co-operate. That’s when adversity set in.
He played the next three holes at four over, and after a par on 18, Robb was +4 and tied for 75th. It would have been easy to take the pats on the back and accept the condolences, but he had 18 more holes to play.
His group was sent right back onto the course due an extreme amount of weather delays for the week. He was +2 with six holes to go and then the putter got white hot.
Birdies on 14 and 15 were followed by a par on 16. He closed out his round with three straight birdies to reach -2. When all was said and done, Robb moved up 60 spots on the leaderboard after his career-low 64 (-6) that tied him for 15th and earned GCAA (Golf Coaches Association of America) All-American laurels.
“I honestly didn’t realize at the time that it was five birdies in six holes,” Robb stated. “I was doing pretty well…doing what I wanted to do which is take each shot at a time. I heard coach get quite excited so I thought something good must have happened.
“Coach told me on the walk in that I birdied five of the last six,” he added. “I guess I was in the moment. I just wanted to take each shot at a time, which is the ideal result to not realize what is going on until you finish.”
Robb had to wait until the afternoon wave was complete before he knew where he stood. That happened while he was in the air from Atlanta to Chattanooga. Upon landing, he received word from his trusty PR friend via text.
“We were following the scores all day,” Robb continued. “The flight attendant made coach put away his laptop as he was trying to refresh it and find out before takeoff. I didn’t think I’d make it…thought I’d finish 16th. As soon as I landed I got the text from you. It was pretty cool. I really haven’t thought about it because I’ve been busy packing all day.
“It’s a pretty good way to end it.”
His 72.84 stroke average in 2013-14 is ninth-best in school history. His career mark of 73.72 is seventh. Yet, he stands tall as an All-American. Only Jonathan Hodge (2nd team) in 2007-08 and Stephan Jaeger (1st team) in 2011-12 can say that in Chattanooga’s history.
“Chris is one of the best ball-strikers we’ve ever had,” Guhne concluded. “Now he’s proven what he is capable of when he gets the putter going.
“He keeps this up, and he is going to enjoy a nice professional career.”To say Chris Robb is a fighter is an understatement. With his back against the wall, he went toe-to-toe with the field of 156 at Prairie Dunes Country and stands tall as one of the elite college golfers of 2013-14.