by Jim Fenton, The Enterprise
BROCKTON – He was within striking distance of earning All-America honors in National Junior College Athletic Association golf one year ago.
Chris McMorrow of Massasoit Community College opened the four-day national Division 3 tournament by shooting a 75 to sit in a tie for third place, and after scoring an 83 on the second day, was in solid position with a 77 in the third round.
"I was set up to be an All-American after the first three days,″ said the Weymouth resident. "All I needed to shoot was an 81 on the last day, but I kind of blew up.″
McMorrow finished the four-day tourney in Chautauqua, New York, with a 90 and finished tied for 34th place with the top 18 receiving All-America recognition.
One year later, McMorrow is completing his Massasoit career at the same Chautauqua Country Club in the western part of New York state with plenty of experience on his side in the quest to become an All-American golfer.
McMorrow, a Weymouth High School graduate, will take part in the NJCAA Division 3 tournament that opens Tuesday and concludes Friday. He qualified by finishing second at the Region 21 tourney that was held in Southwick last month.
Last year, McMorrow went to the nationals after Massasoit qualified as a team, sending four golfers to the tourney after it won the Region 21 title. This time around, McMorrow is the lone Warrior who will be participating.
There will be no need for McMorrow to get familiar with the course or the atmosphere at the nationals as he bids for All-America status.
"I'm going to be back at the same place, the same course,″ said McMorrow, who graduated from Massasoit on Friday. "I'm looking forward to this year.
"I feel like now that I have the experience, it's not going to be easier, but I'll know where I'm supposed to hit the ball each time. I'll know the holes I made mistakes on last year where I made a couple of big numbers. I'm hoping that won't happen again.
"I'm just going to go in there really focused. I had no clue what to expect last year at all. I had never played in a big tournament like that. I had played in high school and the regional matches. Now I'm really focused and I'll be able to keep a level head the entire time and be able to play better.″
McMorrow will be accompanied by Massasoit coach Mike Croatti as he tries to become the program's first All-American. The Warriors' golf team is in its fifth year of existence.
"It's definitely an advantage the fact that he's been there,″ said Croatti. "It's tough to show up to a course and just conquer it without knowing much about it. Now that he's been there for a week, he knows what to expect.
"He's determined to make the right steps to be able to make it through the whole week and be an All-American. That's his main focus this week.″
McMorrow has been a steady golfer since arriving at Massasoit after beginning to play golf when he was a freshman at Weymouth High.
As a college freshman, McMorrow shot a 78 on the second day of the Region 21 tourney and finished sixth overall to help the Warriors win the title and qualify for the nationals.
"He hits the ball with power and accuracy,″ said Croatti. "He knows what he wants to do out there. He's got a plan and he doesn't let a bad shot affect him.
"He's so consistent and even keeled with his demeanor. He's learned a couple more shots to have in the bag this year.″
McMorrow followed in the footsteps of his grandfather and father when he took up golf, and his game has continued to get better, especially during two seasons at Massasoit.
"My short game really improved,″ he said. "My wedges improved a lot and distance-wise I've improved from working out in the gym. In high school, I was 130 pounds and I've put on 50 pounds with muscle and that's helped.″
In addition to qualifying for the nationals in back-to-back years, McMorrow has excelled in the classroom at Massasoit.
He was recently named the Male Student-Athlete Award winner at the school and will transfer as an international maritime business major to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Bourne.
"That meant a lot,″ said McMorrow of the award. "I work very hard and stayed focus on my academics. To get recognized out of the whole school where there's a lot of good athletes who deserve it as well, it just meant a lot.″
The two-year stay at Massasoit is coming to an end with graduation last week and now the national tournament this week where McMorrow can become the program's first All-American with a little improvement over a year ago.
"That's a huge goal,″ he said. "I'll try to keep focused and not get mentally drained from the week.
"It'd be huge. It'd mean a lot to me. I didn't really start playing competitive golf until my freshman year of high school. To be able to be an All-American so quick would be awesome.″