Sept. 13, 2013
Finishing as the top Wolverine in five of the 12 events last season, Chris O'Neill returns for his second season eager to lead a young Wolverine roster, which features no seniors, a junior, three sophomores and three freshmen. O'Neill, who started all 12 events last season and posted a team-best 73.96 per-round average, and his teammates are finishing final preparations for the season opener as the Maize and Blue hosts the Wolverine Intercollegiate at the U-M Golf Course. O'Neill took a few minutes from practice to talk with MGoBlue.com for a spotlight segment.
On what part of his game he can improve on this year ... "Hopefully a rejuvenated putting game. I putted a lot better this summer, so hopefully that continues on this year, because last year I really had some struggles on the green."
On whether the struggle with putting was because of a lack of course knowledge or not ... "Honestly, I just think it was that I was just struggling with something in my stroke, and switching to cross-hand, I got more comfortable at the end of the year. I putted well at Big Tens, our final event. I kind of changed something right before that, and that kind of continued through the summer, which was nice."
On staying competitive while being one of the leaders on a young team ... "Well that's the biggest thing, we've got a lot [of young players] this year. I think we're deep, so it's going to be a good fight at practice, but that's going to be the hardest thing. Last year, we kind of shot ourselves in the foot early on not playing well, and we're going to have a young team this year, so we need to try and get on track early, even if that's not the track record for a young team, necessarily."
On what he can do to help the younger players ... "I mean, I was just there doing this, so hopefully I can give these guys some examples. I just went through it, I know exactly what they're going through, and I don't want them to make the same mistakes I made. I didn't start the year off well last year; I think that my first college tournament was the only round all year that didn't count. I think they need to talk to Brett (McIntosh) about what they need to do the first event."
On how he would rate his summer in terms of his golf game ... "It was pretty good. The one thing about my game that has always been good is that I haven't had a down year, and I've improved every single year I've ever played golf. This summer was no different, I played really well in a couple of tournaments and was right there in the final groups in a few big ones, so it was good experience, and it was exciting, and I feel like this year I'm expecting a lot more. I'm expecting wins for myself and for the team."
On what he did for fun this summer ... "We went to the beach a couple times. It was nice to get away and see all of my friends at home and just hang out, but I love this game too much to get away from it for too long."
On starting the season at home ... "I think it is a huge advantage. Last year, some of the guys were saying how we were always jealous of the kids on the other teams that got to start at home, because you do get that advantage. Four of us have at least played this course. These guys have a little more experience; it's much easier starting on your home course when you're experienced. And hopefully with the field that we have in that tournament, we should win that event."