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Alex Goff of Kentucky Wildcats golf wins in memory of Cullan Brown

“I had played really well the whole day, kept my emotions under control and thought I was going to cruise in the last couple holes to victory,” Goff said by phone Thursday evening after returning to Lexington, Ky.

Those would turn out to be a very long couple of holes.

Goff double-bogeyed the 17th. That was just the prelude to what the redshirt sophomore described as “a debacle.”

On the 18th, all five of Kentucky’s golfers, who were playing in one group, hit into the same sand trap. All used the same brand of ball marked with the Kentucky logo, marking each with a pen to differentiate them.

“I briefly glanced at the ball and thought it was mine, so I didn’t think twice about it. I hit it and I started walking down the fairway and, 30 seconds later, our assistant coach is like, ‘Alex, come back here,’ and that’s when my heart just dropped,” Goff said.

He had hit the wrong ball, incurring a penalty.

“I had hit a good shot and I was just going to walk up the last hole and soak it in. It was going to be a stress-free last few minutes and instead it was the exact opposite of that.”

Goff would triple-bogey, finishing the day with a 4-over-par 76. Meanwhile, Hunter Walcott of Tennessee, playing in the group behind Goff, birdied the 17th hole. At that point, Goff believed they were tied for the lead, with Wolcott holding the tiebreaker in the scoring format.

Goff recalled thinking, “I do not want to let [Brown] down over something so stupid like that” while waiting for Wolcott to finish. “I was so frustrated with myself. My parents were there and my teammates; it was the biggest stage I’d ever been on and to potentially have a mistake like that cost me the win, I just couldn’t wrap my head around it.”

Adding to the drama, those scores would become a source of confusion because of an error by a tournament judge that affected scores posted online and in coverage televised by the Golf Channel.

“It was crazy how many different scenarios and stories there were,” Goff said. “I didn’t know what was true and what wasn’t. … Meanwhile, I’m over here kicking myself in the butt because I had just made a stupid mistake that could cost me something I could remember the rest of my life.”

Wolcott set himself up with a short putt for par to close his round. It lipped out.

Goff had won, by a margin that was corrected to two strokes.

Not that he was looking at that point. “My dad was watching and I was like, ‘I can’t even watch it,'” he said. “When [Wolcott] missed the putt, he yelled, ‘He missed it! He missed it!’ I gave him the biggest hug. It was definitely surreal.”

Cullan Brown was about to begin his sophomore season at Kentucky in September 2019 when osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer, was