NORTH PLAINS, Ore. — Last April Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra shocked the amateur golf world when he announced his plans to forfeit his PGA Tour University status and return to Oklahoma State for another year of college.
Two months later he shocked the professional golf world when he announced he was turning professional to join the Greg Norman-led and Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series. The 22-year-old Spaniard made his debut this week at the Portland event and explained his reasoning for his change of heart.
“Pretty easy. I love what LIV Golf is doing for golf,” explained Chacarra. “I love the format; it’s kind of the same as college, and I felt I was ready to make my debut — turn pro, and I was talking to my team and Oklahoma State, obviously, and I thought it was the best decision for me and just to play with these guys and get experience and get my game better.”
In his post announcing his initial return to college, Chacarra said he was “convinced that an additional year of hard work in Stillwater will allow me to continue to grow academically and personally, which will only prepare me better for the PGA Tour and my professional career.”
So, what changed in the last two months?
“Well, the PGA Tour, what they’ve created with PGA Tour University is great, but they didn’t secure you anything,” said Chacarra, who explained how his friend and former Cowboy, Austin Eckroat, is playing Monday qualifiers until June. “So I was like, ‘okay, great, I’m No. 1 in college golf and all these things, but the PGA Tour doesn’t secure me anything,’ and I have a tour with also the best players in the world playing here with a great format and that secured me play two years and play consistent golf, and I feel like it was the best part for me to get ready for the pro states.”
“He wanted to play with me,” quipped the first-round leader, Carlos Ortiz, who sits atop the leaderboard at 5 under.
Chacarra was a Haskins Award finalist thanks to an impressive season in Stillwater where he earned three wins, one at the NCAA Columbus Regional, and a runner-up at the NCAA Championship after losing in a four-way playoff.