Feb. 21, 2014
After helping the Wolverines to their first-ever Big Ten Match Play Championship win last weekend with a 3-1 record, sophomore Chris O'Neill was recognized with his third Big Ten Player of the Week Honor this season. The team responded well to pressure, using a playoff hole to seal the victory at The Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Fla., in the opening rounds of what O'Neill hopes will be the a successful spring season. Discussing these topics and others, O'Neill took a few minutes from practice to speak with MGoBlue.com for a spotlight segment.
On the importance of last weekend's Big Ten Match Play Championship win ... "It was crucial. It was very exciting and it's kind of the kick-start to our spring season so we were trying to get off on the right foot and it was huge for us. We kind of struggled in the fall and didn't meet our expectations, so hopefully this gives us the boost we need."
On earning his third Big Ten Player of the Week honor this season ... "It's cool. It's a great honor and I really appreciate that they recognize me, but I really care so much more about the team victory. Honestly, I was just trying to do whatever I could so our team could win and if I happen to get picked as the Big Ten Player of the Week that's a nice bonus, but I couldn't have been more excited that we were able to get the win as a team."
On the how the team responded to the pressure of a playoff hole ..."Everyone handled it really well. The playoff hole is a very tough driving hole and every single person on our five-man team that was playing hit the fairway so we kind of knew it was over after the tee shots because they had a few guys knock it in the water. Everyone came up clutch and it's pretty special to have been a part of the first Big Ten Match Play victory for Michigan. I know coach was very excited to have gotten one there."
On his focus during the winter ... "The biggest things for me are driving and keeping the ball in play off the tee, but we spent a lot of time on short game over the offseason. That always seems like a big emphasis for the coaches and I think a lot of guys are already seeing improvements this early into the spring in their short games."
On the difficulties of translating fall success to the spring season ... "It's not bad having a break to have a mental rest for a little while, but I played really well at the start of the fall. I think I kept some of my summer hot streak going, but my last couple of tournaments were very mediocre so my goal for the spring is to put together some consistently good play and hopefully if I can do that the team results will be there, too."
On whether he has been enjoying the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi ... "I have been able to watch, USA's been doing well. I'm a big curling fan, so I've been watching Olympic Curling. We will be traveling during the United States-Canada (hockey) game, but I'm sure that will be a good one, too."
Previous Spotlight: Chris Whitten