UW Health Sports Medicine 

Oehrlein previews the 2014 Big Ten Golf Championships


April 21, 2014

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MADISON, Wis. – Head women’s golf coach Todd Oehrlein addressed the media on Monday as his Badgers prepare for the 2014 Big Ten Championships. Wisconsin competes at the conference meet on April 25-27, in French Lick, Ind. UW finished sixth a year ago with seniors Alexis Nelson and Kris Yoo placing among the top 20.

A complete transcript of Oehrlein’s remarks is below.

Opening Statement: We have our conference championship this week. It's amazing how fast the season begins to wrap up. We're finally getting some decent weather around here and it seems like we're getting near the end of our season.

We have a new venue this year. We've been down in French Lick for a neutral site the last two years, so this is the third year, but we have a different golf course. We are playing the Pete Dye course instead of the Donald Ross course.

We're excited about that change in venue of the golf course. It's just a remarkable place. At some point in time it will host a major championship, whether it be a PGA event or an LPGA major championship. It really is that caliber of golf course. So we're excited about that.

We’ve had a solid season. We're coming off an event at Napa (Calif.) co-hosted by Colorado and the University of Oregon, and we got off to a nice start, played really well the first day, 36-hole day. We were in a pretty good position in a really deep field.

(We) did not play as well as we would have liked that final round. Got off to a pretty good start in that round, and then kind of the middle of the round just kind of let the round disappear a little bit. A couple of the players really finished pretty strong and held it together, which I was proud of.

Our best golf this year has been when we're balanced. That's really kind of the key to our program and the key to our team, is just pretty decent depth. And when we have all five players -- or six in this particular case, we’re taking six to the Big Tens -- but when the whole team is balanced and playing just solid golf, we're a pretty good golf team.

So that's been a key and that's something we'll certainly focus on this week going into French Lick.

The golf course is a great setup. We need to drive the ball well. It is a strength of ours, so I'm optimistic that we will. I think that's the key to playing this golf course. The minute you get off the fairway, the lies become really uneven and the approach shots become much more difficult and demanding.

And then your short games, the green complexes are major championship caliber. So your short games have to be really good and you have to putt the ball really well.

I think that those tend to play into our strengths and certainly fit our golf team, so we're excited about it.

Prior to this last tournament where you were 11th, you had all top-10 finishes, a win, a couple third-place finishes, and you've been led by three different players that have led at least two times. Is this the consistency that you've been striving for, or what do you take from these results?

There is balance to the team, and I like the fact that we don't have to just totally depend on one player or two players all of the time in order to play well. Because if those players have an off day, then our team really suffers.

It doesn't really fall on one player's shoulders. That type of balance and that type of depth is something we worked really hard to develop through our program, and it proves to be a strength of ours typically. So it does reflect itself in the results. You're right.

That's something that we need to continue on as we move forward.

We've got a nice balance too, from an experience standpoint. We'll actually have three seniors in the lineup of the six this coming week, along with two juniors and a freshman. So we've got a distribution from an experience standpoint as well, which I think always helps.

As a freshman, what has Brooke Ferrell done? Has it surprised you how quickly she's come along so far?

It always surprises you to a certain extent when a freshman comes in and makes an immediate impact like that, just because there's so much going on.

We all talk about it and we all understand the transition from high school and junior golf into college.  And yet it's not surprising in the fact that she's played -- as a junior golfer she played a very competitive national level-type schedule. She had a tremendous amount of success at that level. So she was comfortable coming in here. She has high expectations and she's very competitive.

She’s also a very strong player, physically she's strong. So length was not an issue for her, making that adjustment. A lot of times that's part of the adjustment from junior golf and high school golf into the college game. They're prepared for it. They know it's going to be longer, but they aren't necessarily prepared to handle it to that extent.

And it really wasn't a challenge for Brooke because that's part of her strengths or one of the positives to her game, that she is strong and she does have length.

So she's given us a great boost this year. She's really given us a nice lift. We needed that out of her, losing Lindsay Danielson as a senior from the year before. Lindsay was such a solid player for us, so to have somebody come in as a freshman and give us that shot in the arm, step in and fill those shoes right away was really big for our team.

Kris Yoo had a very good season a year ago. Has she been able to handle that success? How has she played as a senior this year?

She has handled that success. She's handled it really well. We’ve had a lot great practicers and preparers and people that really work really hard at it, but I'm not sure if I've ever had anybody that does a better job of just staying disciplined, staying focused, just practicing and really working hard on developing and getting the most out of her game.

And that really didn't change. The fact that she came off of a really solid junior year, you have high expectations, and she didn't waiver in her approach. As a result, she played really very solidly.

The game is somewhat inconsistent by nature, as we all know, anybody that's played it. So she's had some down rounds as well, where she hasn't played as well as she wanted to. Kris' response to that is always come right back to practice and get right back to the fundamental side of the game and just really continue developing as a player.

So she's handled that very well.

Michigan State has won four or five tournaments in a row, if I'm not mistaken, something like that?  They've been pretty good.

They have been good for a number of years.

Has the gap kind of decreased amongst the other teams?

The gap has shrunk. We actually have a really deep league. Michigan State had won a couple, Northwestern and Purdue were co-champions last year. And I would say there's six teams that could win this golf tournament. You obviously have a favorite or two, and that's like any tournament.

You probably have six teams that, if things go well, they could play at a level that's good enough to win this championship.

I think we're one of those teams. I feel like we have that opportunity to play that well. But you have to perform. You have to play well at the right time. You have to make some putts and you have to be solid in your approach. This golf course is going to really test your mental game.

I know we're just coming off the Masters, and you heard a lot of the players talk about that at the Masters all the time. You hear them talk about needing to be really strong mentally today. You always have to be good, but today I need to be great. You're moving into a championship venue, and that's the way it should be. So that's a big part to it.

Last year from a competitive side of things, we had four teams in our league at the NCAA Finals last year from the Big Ten. I know the traditional conferences that you think of when you think of college golf, the Pac-12 and the SEC, they had five representatives. We had four. And the ACC, for instance, had one team at the national finals.

Our league is very deep, it's very well-respected and so it makes for a great championship this week. That's what we're looking forward to.

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