Sport: Men’s golf
Hometown: Carmel, Ind.
Question: You’re a left-handed golfer who grew up in the 2000s. Does that automatically make Phil Mickelson your idol?
Answer: Not necessarily. I started getting into golf when I was in sixth or seventh grade, right around the time Tiger Woods had a really good year, in 2013. I became interested in what made him great and all the things he did in the 2000s. Nothing against Phil, but I was drawn to Tiger early on.
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Q: What three things about Woods did you find most appealing as you watched him?
A: The first thing I always noticed was his focus on the golf course. It felt like he was in another zone compared with the rest of the field, and that gave him a huge advantage. Another was his ability to come through in clutch moments. One of my favorite memories was the putt Tiger made at (the U.S. Open at) Torrey Pines in 2008 to get into a playoff with Rocco Mediate. Lastly, the intensity he brought to his practice and preparation is something that I can really appreciate now that I have experience playing competitive golf.
Q: Truth time: Before this year’s Masters, did you ever think he would win another major?
A: It’s tough to say. I felt like he had it in him, but there were always lingering issues or problems holding him back. It was pretty cool to see him overcome them and win another major.
Q: And do you think he will ever win another?
A: Personally, no. The Masters was so big that it’s going to be really hard to ever re-create that. I would love to see him do it, but I think it’s going to be even harder to win another.
Q: You grew up in Carmel, Indiana, which is one of those places that often gets ranked high in the “best places to live” surveys. Is that warranted?
A: It’s a nice place to live. There’s everything you need in that town, and it’s kept really nice. A fun fact about the place is that there’s only about three or four stoplights in the whole town and about 120 roundabouts. I’ve gone weeks without having to stop at an intersection.
Q: What is the best thing going in Carmel?
A: Carmel High School is a sweet place. More than 5,000 kids go there, so it’s a fun atmosphere. I walked down the hallways and saw someone new every day, which isn’t something you usually see in a high school. We also have more than 150 state championships, so the sports games are always a blast.
Q: Among the famous people from your hometown is the golf course architect Pete Dye; are you a fan of his courses?
A: Yeah, a huge fan. I feel like he brings a lot of variety to his architecture, and his courses can play many different ways. I grew up playing a ton of his designs, and I’ve grown to love them.
Q: The course where Dye made his name, Crooked Stick, is in Carmel. Have you played that course before, or will the tournament in October be your first time?
A: That was one of the first big-time courses I ever played. I remember in middle school getting called out of class by my dad because we had a tee time there for my birthday. It’s a place I love, and I’m excited to compete there with a big hometown crowd following along.
Q: I just saw Ohio State’s fall schedule: You guys are playing Inverness in Toledo, Pumpkin Ridge in Oregon, Muirfield Village and Crooked Stick. Do you know how much some people would pay for that privilege?
A: That’s something we appreciate as a team. We get to play some of the best courses in the world, and not too many schools can say that. Ohio State is a special place, and it comes with a lot of perks.
Q: How would you describe your college career so far? It seems you’ve been on the cusp of being a key contributor?
A: I’ve certainly had my ups and downs, but I’ve learned so much. It’s crazy how much my game has changed. I’m excited to show it off this year and be a big part of this team’s success.
Q: Has the transition from junior golf to college golf been more difficult than you anticipated?
A: It definitely has, and it’s something I didn’t think about a whole lot coming into college. It’s hard transitioning into the kind of golf we play, but it’s for the better. You really learn what your weaknesses are, and that your strengths aren’t as strong as you thought. It’s a real kick in the gut that makes you realize how much better you have to get to be successful.
Q: You were honored as Big Ten golfer of the week last season after going 4-0 in the Big Ten match-play event; what was that week like?
A: It was a special week. I didn’t think about my play until after the tournament because it was so cool to see the team win. It’s pretty cool to win a match-play event like that, especially as our first event of the spring.
Q: All things considered, do you prefer match play or stroke play?
A: Match play is a lot of fun, but I don’t think it would be if we played it more than we do. We have a few tournaments a year that are match play, and I look forward to those weeks. It’s a fun atmosphere playing head to head like that.
Q: Have you become an OSU football aficionado, or were you one already before you came to school here?
A: It’s hard not to become a huge OSU football fan being here. It’s the coolest thing about going to Ohio State. The tradition and the atmosphere at games is insane. I get goose bumps every time before kickoff.