Sophomore golfer Will Hocker went into the Rhodes Collegiate Invitational tournament as just another golfer on the team, but he left with his name cemented in Webster University greatness. He set Webster records for lowest round and best three-round score, and finished the tournament with a 206 score which included a 66 in the second round.
For his efforts, he was named St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) player of the week for Sept. 30. Hocker said after getting off to a subpar start to the season, he was glad he was able to hit his stride and have an exceptional tournament.
“Going into the tournament, I wouldn’t say that I was playing at my highest form,” Hocker said. “Something just clicked that weekend and I was able to put it all together, have a good tournament and come out on top.”
Hocker also set a record in the SLIAC conference during the Rhodes Collegiate Invitational tournament at Tunica National Golf Course. Before his 206 score, the previous record was 211. He said he was not aware of the Webster or SLIAC records coming into the tournament or during it, and he was not aware he had broken the record by five strokes.
It was not until his head coach Andrew Belsky told him what he had accomplished that he realized he had done something special.
“I was not aware of anything until after the round,” Hocker said. “We were heading back and coach Belsky told me that he believed that I had shattered all three records that were standing for Webster and the conference.”
Hocker is a transfer student from the University of Oklahoma and he did not play golf while attending that school. Despite this, when Belsky saw Hocker’s statistics from high school, he knew he would be a perfect fit for Webster.
“He sent me all of his statistics from high school and you could just tell that he knew how to play, and that he was going to be a good player,” Belsky said. “I think the bigger question was how long was it going to take him to get his groove again because he had taken a year off from playing, but he’s come in and found it very quickly for us.”
Hocker grew up in Grapevine, Texas, where he was first introduced to golf by his grandparents at an early age.
“My grandparents were the ones who got my brother and I involved in golf,” Hocker said. “They did a good job of getting us involved very early, my parents said I was born with a golf club in my hand. I’d always played golf along with baseball and football, but by the time I got to high school, I knew I could do something in golf and that was the sport that I needed to pursue and I’m very grateful I did.”
Hocker’s grandmother, Georgia Hocker, said she knew golf would be the sport for Will just by seeing how much fun he had with it when she would take him out to the golf course.
“We took him out to the golf course and he would just hit the ball, and you could see that he enjoyed playing,” Georgia said. “We knew he would be a good player someday just by seeing how much fun he had with it.”
Georgia said she also used golf to help develop Will into a young man and teach him life lessons.
“With golf, we taught him honesty, integrity and good sportsmanship, and that’s important to have with a sport like golf,” Georgia said.
Will grew up admiring professional golfer Tiger Woods. Over the course of Woods’ career, he won 14 major championships and in the 2000 and 2001 seasons, he won four majors in a row and he is the only golfer to ever accomplish that. Will said seeing Woods’ accomplishments is what drove him to work hard on his golfing skills so that he could have success as well.
“Tiger Woods was bigger than golf; he really changed the sport,” Will said. “Without Woods, golf would not be where it is today and I might not be playing if it wasn’t for him as well.”
Will said after all of his passion and hard work that he put into becoming a successful golfer, he is proud to be a Webster record holder and to be recognized as the SLIAC player of the week. He is also happy to see how proud his parents are of his accomplishments in collegiate golf.
“It’s very rewarding and I’m gladder to see how happy my parents are especially with me telling them my senior year of high school that I wasn’t going to play college golf and now I’m back playing,” Will said. “I’m very proud to be able to have these achievements, and I believe there’s many more great achievements in my future and I just need to work hard to make sure that I achieve those goals.”