FORT COLLINS, Colo. — It's not time to hang up the bag yet.
"Honestly, after conference got done, I didn't think that I was going to make it."
AJ Ott earned an individual invitation to play in the NCAA Men's Golf Regional played at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Oklahoma, on May 17-19.
"But then my coach told me I had a pretty good shot," he said.
A pretty good shot for the best shooter on the Colorado State men's team. Ott led the Rams in scoring, averaging 71.08 strokes in 24 rounds played.
He also captured his first and second individual titles at the first two tournaments of the season. Ott's average this year ranks fourth on CSU's all-time list, while his career average of 72.44 ranks eighth in the Rams' annals.
"I think the entire season, I've just been trying to enjoy it and soak it in with all of my teammates and great coaches," he said. "I'm excited to keep playing, and more than anything, I just want to represent CSU well. This whole school has given me so much."
Not only will he be representing the Rams at regionals, but he'll still be sporting his Army veteran bag he showed off earlier this year. The senior has been honoring Sergeant Charles W. Williamson III with his name sewn onto his golf bag, a tradition started by the team a year ago.
"I've definitely been able to have some fun conversations with other schools and guys that are interested in it and the story behind the bag," Ott said. "I'm very blessed to be able to keep carrying it, hopefully for two more events."
That's the plan: play well enough at regionals to earn his first and only NCAA National Championship berth. He's played at an NCAA Regional with his team before in 2018 and 2019, never making it past that step, and as an individual, the chances are even slimmer. Ott will have to finish as the number one golfer at his site.
"I'm going to try to play as good as I can and if it's good enough, then great, and if it's not, then that's okay too. But I just really want to enjoy it," he said. "Hopefully on the last day if I have a shot to get to the national championship, then that's all anyone can ask for. As college golfers, everyone wants to live in those high pressure moments and stuff, and those chances are so rare."
Ott is in his fifth and final year of eligibility with CSU. He knows every round he plays could potentially be his last.
"It's definitely bittersweet and it feels a lot more bitter at times, just because college golf is so awesome. It's so awesome being here in Fort Collins and a student athlete," he said. "I'm trying to look at it as a new beginning instead of the end. If I'm fortunate enough to play pro golf here in a couple of weeks, that's my plan."
The Fort Collins native and Fort Collins High School graduate doesn't plan to leave the area too soon, either. Ott hopes to give back to his team by volunteering as a coach next season, if his professional career allows.
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