BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — At the beginning of July, Normal Community product Rob Wuehrich became the first ever Illinois Wesleyan golfer to win the prestigious Jack Nicklaus golfer of the year award.
“It was a huge award to be able to win that, and it kind of just shows the culture of Wesleyan. Because over the year we have had great players. Bennett Blakeman played in two U.S. Open’s, was a finalist for it. Connor O’Neil was a two time finalist for it,” Wuethrich said. “So to win it was kind of a big thing for me just to win it for them for all they have helped me with.
The Nicklaus award honors to the top collegiate players in Divisions I, II and III, along with the best in NAIA and junior college golf.
Typically, Wuethrich would have been invited to meet Nicklaus at the PGA’s Memorial Tournament in Ohio. But due to COVID-19, none of the players received that invitation.
However, Wuethrich was invited to be in a Zoom call with The Golden Bear instead.
“It was pretty crazy, I didn’t really know what to expect. I had my computer all set up and he just gets on and he’s like, “How are you guys doing?” It was very casual and he really meant all that he was saying,” Wuethrich said. “A man of his stature and respect, it was awesome to have him come off as this down to earth, humble guy.”
Within the 90-minute conversation, Nicklaus shared stories of his career and gave a few golf tips to the award winners. But Wuethrich says his biggest takeaway was Nicklaus’ message about life away form the golf course.
“He talked a lot about his family and how he maybe could have won some more majors or tournaments had he not had his family,” Wuethrich said. “But he never would have traded it away for that. Just kind of cherishing the moments you get and having fun when you’re doing it.”
Wuethrich hopes to have a lot of fun in the spring when the Titans will try and defend their Division III golf national championship. And the IWU senior is ready to share the advice he’s received from Nicklaus and others.
“If anybody wants to reach out or wants help or advice, or just to pick my brain,” Wuethrich said. “That is something that I will want to do or pass along as others have passed along to me.”