May 6, 2013
· WATCH NEWS CONFERENCE | Weekly Release
MADISON, Wis. -- Badger coach Todd Oehrlein spoke with the media May 6 on the prelude to his team's trip to the NCAA Central Regionals held May 9-11 in Norman, Okla. The transcript of his remarks follows. Fans may also view the video of the comments which were made at the regular Monday news conference at Camp Randall Stadium media room.
THE MODERATOR: The women's golf team will play in the NCAA Central Regional in Norman, Oklahoma. The top eight teams will advance to the NCAA Championship. This will be the fifth regional appearance in program history and the second trip in the last three seasons. Head coach Todd Oehrlein is here. We'll have opening comments and then take questions.
COACH OEHRLEIN: As Brian mentioned, as you can imagine, we're very excited. We're looking forward to getting down to Oklahoma. We're comfortable with the golf course. There's some familiarity. Four of the five players that will be making the trip have played the golf course before, and it's a good golf course for us. It's a pretty solid setup.
So we're looking forward to it, and we go into it optimistic that we've played it pretty solidly in the past and looking forward to getting down there and seeing the golf course.
They have no doubt, a little further along in the season this year than being a regional championship, the rough will be long, and it will be set up like a championship golf course. We'll get down there and have a championship round on Wednesday, learn as much as you can about the golf course and get comfortable. Tee it up Thursday afternoon and start the event.
Q. Do you think it was the performance in the Big Ten Championships that got you into the Tournament? And talk a little bit about that and about seven Big Ten teams also qualifying for NCAAs.
COACH OEHRLEIN: The conference was really strong this year. It was as deep of a league as I've seen since I've been here. I talked about that going into the Conference Tournament, how open the Tournament was and really how balanced it was going into it. I think that proved to be true. We had co-Big Ten champions actually. It was very competitive.
I think you asked if it was our performance at the Big Tens that really kind of put us over the edge and got us in? We played a great final round. We played a pretty solid first round too. Our middle round, we wish we could go back and play over. I was very proud of how the players responded in that final day at the Big Ten Championship. So that definitely helped our cause.
Similar to like what Bebe (Bryans rowing coach) was saying when she was here, all of the challenges she's expressing are things that we faced as well, and yet to begin to steal a little bit of what she mentioned, I just can't say enough about our team and our players and the way they responded to some of those challenges because there is no substitute for being on a golf course and being outdoors.
So when we got to sites, they worked hard and put a lot of time in and adjusted quickly and were very resilient. And very competitive while they were on site. So I thought that went really well.
Now, to go on a little further, we had a great fall, and the players, when they came in last fall, were very, very prepared, very ready to go, and they had an excellent, excellent fall. And so we really kind of set the table for a good spring, and we were good in the spring in moments, and then other times, we didn't play as well as we'd like.
Overall, it was an excellent season, and we're really excited to be playing in May.
Q. Bebe (Bryans) estimated that her team is probably about three weeks behind the competition. Do you notice that at all in terms of where you are? Like you might feel like you're doing pretty good, but do you feel like you're behind at all because of the weather?
COACH OEHRLEIN: I think we're shrinking that gap. I'd have a tough time putting weeks on it. But, yeah, we were behind.
The way I felt as spring played out was early in the spring, you make sure you see really good competition from a scheduling standpoint. You want to make sure you're playing great teams. But the golf courses, you don't necessarily have to schedule the most difficult golf course that you're going to see all year in February. So as you get closer to the championship, you begin to ramp up the golf course, and you begin to ramp up the level of play.
In a normal year, as your players are starting to get outdoors, there are things that they need to be doing to prepare for that, and you know that, and you know that that's something they typically would do. This year, as we're heading into some of those events and some of those sites, they just weren't able to do that.
So you knew they were behind from that standpoint, just from a pure scoring perspective, and yet as I mentioned, they handled it very well, and I was very proud of how they responded and what they did. I think that's probably the best way for me to sum that up.
Q. Just looking at this schedule, I mean, it starts in September and ends now. Is there a challenge to stay fresh in between that October to February time frame without seeing a golf course?
COACH OEHRLEIN: I'd say there's a challenge, but it's not impossible. The players take some trips over Christmas break on their own during winter break. It's not something we're able to provide for them, but it demonstrates their commitment and their dedication. So they get out and play a little bit.
And then when you get started it's been a really common question actually. I totally understand it. But in the last week or so, I've had people that have asked, how do you think the team is going to do this year? And, well, we've got one (tournament) left. We're done. We played in the Conference Championships already, and it's just all perspective relative to what the golf courses are around here.
So the fact that we start as early as we do and we balance out the trips with the practice, that keeps them fresh and keeps them alert and keeps them sharp with what they're doing. There is a fairly significant time off and break around finals time in mid December and then through Christmas break.
The Christmas holiday is actually the only time of the year where we really are not able to work with our athletes, where they're kind of on their own. So that's a nice little break. I always kind of phrase it as one really big season with a long halftime called winter.
Q. What are Kris Yoo's best attributes as a golfer and talk a little bit about having an all-conference performer after a little bit of a drought.
COACH OEHRLEIN: Kris' strengths on the golf course are, number one, great concentration, just a toughness to what she's doing mentally. She's very strong on the golf course with just concentration and focus and preparation and things of that nature. Those are one of her main strengths. She drives the ball extremely well, and then you combine that with a great short game.
I think coming off of the fall, I haven't seen our spring individual rankings as of right now, but I think coming off of the fall, I think Kris was ranked sixth or seventh in the country in total short game. That speaks a little bit to some of her talents and what she does.
I was really excited to see her earn that all-conference honor and play her way onto that spot. We haven't had one, as noted, since Coach Elliott, our assistant coach right now (2007). It had been a little bit of a drought. We've had players that have been really close, though.
I was just hoping that she would pull through and play her way onto that team. Her spring has just been remarkably consistent. She's just played really well.
Q. I don't know if you saw the Wells Fargo this weekend, Derek Ernst won, wasn't even supposed to be playing in the event, and walks away with $1.2 million and has an exemption for the rest of the events. Is that a tool you use for your players, if this guy can come in and win and he wasn't even supposed to be playing in the event, who knows what you can accomplish?
COACH OEHRLEIN: You're always looking for ways to keep your team sharp and motivate your players. They're excited about it. I don't think this team needs a tremendous amount of motivation along those lines. We come in at a given seed, and I know that they believe and I believe we are probably a better golf team than that seed, just due to situations that maybe were a little bit out of their control.
I think we're playing better than that 20th seed right now. They're looking forward to that. They're excited about it.
It's interesting you mentioned the Wells Fargo this weekend. It speaks to the depth of golf and the way it's growing. Obviously, extremely deep on the PGA Tour, but the LPGA Tour and women's collegiate golf is becoming more and more balanced by the year.
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