RALEIGH, NC – 11 Aug, 2017 – With the score tied 52 to 52 and the clock under 10 seconds and running, Senior guard Dereck Whittenburg held the ball in his hands, 35 feet away from the hoop. A basket would give the underdog NC State team the NCAA national championship. With the clock running down, Dereck launched the ball into the hands of Lorenzo Charles who dunked it for the 54-52 championship over the favored Houston team and its future hall of famer Akeem Olajuwan.
Last Monday, more than 34 year later and a couple months shy of his 57 birthday, Whittenburg reached into his golf bag and pulled out a 5-iron. He looked out at the par 3, number two hole of the Arnold Palmer designed Lonnie Poole Golf Course at NC State University towards a flag more than 186 yards away. Whittenburg, a 16 handicapper, who by his own admission doesn’t play much golf, aimed and pulled the trigger.
“There were about 12 people around the green. I saw it hit and roll, but I didn’t see it go in,” says Whittenburg. “I was playing with my brother and I turned to him and asked if it went in.”
The ball had, in fact, gone in for a hole-in-one, winning Whittenburg a 2017 Ford Mustang. It also revived that feeling that most never get, some only once in their lifetime: reaching a milestone pinnacle in a sport.
Dereck intends on selling the car and donating the proceeds to his foundation which gives scholarships to deserving college students.
“To be able to bridge the gap that allows students to complete their education…that’s what winning feels like,” said Whittenburg.
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