If LSU golfer John Peterson never knew what winning the individual title at the NCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championships would mean to him, he does now.
On Thursday afternoon, Peterson spent what seemed like an eternity waiting to see if he would win the title as a handful of talented players took aim at the 5-under-par, 54-hole score he posted at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.
He eventually won, and on Friday, it was phone call after phone call — probably 200 to 300, Peterson said — and a taped interview with The Golf Channel.
“This is ridiculous,” Peterson said during yet another call to his mobile device. “I didn’t know it was that big of a deal.”
It is and it’s really just the beginning for the senior All-American and two-time All-SEC pick.
Needless to say, it’s worth it for a guy the college golf world knew nothing about, he said, when he decided to sign with LSU back in 2007 — choosing the Tigers over perennial national power Oklahoma State.
“Man, it’s been awesome,” Peterson said. “I’ve enjoyed every second of this. I went from people not really knowing who I was to this.”
And winning in Stillwater made it more special than it already was, he said.
“It feels good because they recruited me,” Peterson said. “It was really between LSU and Oklahoma State, and I flipped a coin …”
Peterson paused and laughed before adding, “I wanted to start something new at LSU. So it felt good to go there and win on their home course.”
Adding to the excitement was the fact that Peterson, who set a course record with a 7-under 65 in Wednesday’s second round, helped make NCAA history.
He said he learned Thursday night that he and LSU freshman Austin Ernst, who captured the women’s individual title on May 21, had become the first male and female golfer from one school to sweep the titles.
Peterson said he thought that honor might have gone to UCLA, Stanford or Georgia Tech.
“That’s the first time it’s happened, so me and Austin have something to be proud of,” he said. “LSU hadn’t had an (individual) champion in 70 years and we had two in 13 days. Think about that.”
There won’t be much time to do that, however, as the 22-year-old Peterson will try to earn a U.S. Open spot on Monday in a 36-hole qualifier in Dallas — 50 minutes from his home in Fort Worth.
He’ll also play in several other amateur events over the summer — including the U.S. Amateur — in the hopes of making the Walker Cup team.
After that, he’ll try to earn his PGA Tour card at the Q-School in the fall and take the next step in his career.
But there’s something else he’s looking forward to this fall: walking to midfield in Tiger Stadium and being recognized as a national champion in front of more than 90,000 LSU fans.
“That’s what I’m most excited about,” Peterson said. “We’re going to be able to do it, we just don’t know which game yet.”