April 16, 2014
On a seven-man team with three freshmen, experience and comfort can be invaluable. Sophomore Andrew Yeager knows this and has brought a great deal of both to Michigan's clubhouse with his steady play over the last two seasons. Yeager set career-best 18-hole and 54-hole scores last weekend in the NYX Hoosier Invitational playing as an individual, shooting a second-round 68 on his way to a 213 total to finish in a tie for third, his first career top-five finish. Discussing his career event last weekend, the development of this year's crop of freshmen and the difference in team atmosphere from a year ago, Yeager took time out of his preparation for the Big Ten Championships to sit down with MGoBlue.com for this week's spotlight segment.
On his career-best finish at the NYX Hoosier Invitational ... "I was really hitting the ball well, that was definitely the thing. For me, a lot of my game is ball striking, and I hit 44 out of the 54 greens. Putting was really difficult out there; the greens have a lot of slope to them, so by hitting a lot of greens I was able to get a lot of two-puts and not make a lot of big numbers or make any real mistakes."
On whether his success was a product of the course setup or if it reflects the growth in his game ... "I think it's a combination of both. I think my game is really progressing this year and I came into the tournament hitting it well. I played in the tournament last year so I knew the course a little bit. Then I think the course is kind of set up for me as well. You can miss a little bit left or right off the tee and still get away with it as long as you hit a good iron shot and I think that helps me."
On keeping momentum with lengthy breaks in between events ... "It's definitely a little hard, especially over the winter. It's easier once we're out there practicing. It's tough though, because you're thinking about that next tournament but then you have so much time to practice and think about it, whereas when you play in back-to-back weeks you practice for a few days then you're right back out there, ready to go. I think it makes it a little bit more difficult, but with the Big Ten's coming up I know we're all going to be amped up and ready to go when it comes around."
On the success of the freshmen and how the returning players helped ease their transition ... "All three of the freshmen are real good players with really good junior careers. Being that we have a small team and we all get along really well, I think that helps take the pressure off them. They didn't feel like it was as much of a competition between guys; it was more just the team going out there and whoever was playing well was going to get that spot in the lineup and be ready. The freshmen are freshmen, but at this point in the year we almost feel they're older than that because they've been there and played in the tournaments. They feel more experienced than freshmen at this point."
On the difference in the team atmosphere from last year to this year ... "There definitely is (a difference). The biggest place you can see it is in our practices. I feel like during a lot of golf team practices, you see a lot of guys practicing by themselves, putting headphones in and just kind of staying to themselves because it is an individual sport. This year, the guys are talking more; the guys are with each other and joking around a little bit more, enjoying each other's company, playing competitions with each other. You can really see the team camaraderie in practice."
Previous Spotlight: Noori Hyun