Diego Gonzalez Earns Big South Men’s Golfer of the Week Honors

Diego Gonzalez Earns Big South Mens Golfer of the Week Honors

Jordan Davis, Contributor

Diego Gonzalez, a senior in N.C. A&T men’s golf team was named the Big South Golfer of the Week following his performance at the Phoenix Invitational. 

Gonzalez received the honor a week following his teammate Xavier Williams earning the honor as well. I had the pleasure last week to sit down and talk with Diego about what this meant to him. 

“It’s really cool that the conference rewards us for performing at a high level. If me and my teammates are being named golfer of the week that means we have a really good chance of winning any tournament we play in. Honors like this only motivate us to be better,” Gonzalez said. 

Gonzalez had a record-breaking two days at the Phoenix Invitational hosted by Elon University. He finished fourth, two shots off the leaders, with an 8-under 205 over 54 holes and three rounds of golf. Gonzalez eagled the par-5, 534-yard par-6 for the third eagled carded in school history. 

Although he received these honors, Gonzalez wished he would have finished first.

“After the first and second round I knew I wasn’t playing as well as I knew I could,” Gonzalez said. “We needed a 63 before the final round and I finished with a 66. I was short by -3 to win the championship. It hurt because I was 7-under by missing 3 holes but all I can do is learn from it.”

A&T Coach Richard Watkins raved about Diego’s performance last week calling him a “a very good player who plays under control and works very hard on his game.” 

“He is always prepared and sticks to his plan of attack. He works very hard on his game, but he knows how to have fun while working. That’s a good mix for a good player,” Watkins said.     

Diego says the work ethic Coach Watkins spoke about is the way it is because of his main goal. 

“Since I got here I’ve had one major goal: get to the PGA Tour,” Gonzalez said. “I try to push my team to be great here as well because I know they have goals they wish to achieve too. At the end of the day you have to perform. No matter how much work you put in, we have to win and compete in order to get better.”

Gonzalez isn’t the only stud on this squad. His teammate Xavier Williams also received Big South Golfer of the Week honors a week prior to Diego after bouncing back mid tournament in similar fashion to Gonzalez. 

Gonzalez and Williams both are competitive with each other and push each other to be better each practice. 

“Xavier and I get along well and we have similar goals for ourselves as well as the team as a whole,” Gonzalez said. “We always are battling no matter what. Since Freshman year we’ve each been trying to best each other in every tournament. If he’s playing down, I try my best to encourage him to keep his head and have his back. If I’m playing down, he’ll do the same thing. He’s like a brother to me.”

Everything he’s ever been about is winning and getting better for himself and his teammates around him.  So it was no surprise that Gonzalez was all in when two-time NBA champion J.R. Smith joined the Aggies’ Men’s Golf team in August. 

“The first time I met him I told him that I’ll try and help you with anything I can,” Gonzalez said. 

Smith has made good strides since joining the Aggies. Smith participated in his first collegiate tournament at the Phoenix Invitational. 

“He’s been making a lot of progress lately. I was extremely impressed with how he performed in his first tournament. Doing this while also dealing with all the pressure from the media and outside noise — I could only imagine. He’s a true competitor at the end of the day and that’s all we could ask for.”

Aspirations are promising for the Aggies for the rest of season and Diego believes that this team has what it takes to win a few tournaments in the upcoming months.

“The goal for the team this year is to win our home tournament and hopefully a couple others. In order to get there we have to be patient, stay the course and keep improving every single day.” 

Aggie Golf will be back in action on Mar. 14, 2022, at Appalachian State University for the Bash at the Beach Tournament.