Coach Mike Wydra's UC
San Diego Golf team turned in perhaps its best performance of the 2011 season
last week, finishing sixth against an extremely strong 14-team Division II
field in the Southern California Intercollegiate at Mission Viejo Country Club.
Leading the way was senior Keith Okasaki who fired a 54-hole total of 223 which
left him third in the individual standings. "Keith is our team captain and
clearly our No. 1 player," says Wydra. "He's gone to the post-season every year
and I think his finish at Mission Viejo has him motivated to step it up and get
there again as a senior." With his squad starting the run towards "the
championship season," the Sacramento native took time to talk about last week's
tournament, his team and the game of golf.
third at last week's Southern California Intercollegiate at Mission Viejo
Country Club, you said you didn't play that well. How do you account for the
Wydra prepared us well, explaining every step he took in setting up the course
as difficult as he did. Knowing
what he was trying to accomplish, I was able to play conservatively, miss to
the correct side of the hole, and manage my game around the course making pars.
Q-How difficult was
the Mission Viejo course and the conditions faced during the tournament? How do
you keep the right frame of mind when facing a demanding situation on the golf
Viejo is the toughest course we play all year and with the course being wet
because of all the rain, it played almost impossibly tough. Having played here the last three
years, I know that everyone struggles and making a bogey here and there isn't
too big of a deal.
Q-It's been a tough
season to date for the Triton golf team. Do you look at your individual
performance and that of the team at the SoCal tournament as a possible turning
hope so. It's been a frustrating
year, especially knowing that personally I haven't played near where I think I
can. But after finally playing
decently in a tournament, hopefully we will be able to finish the season
Q-When did you start
playing golf and what do you remember about your first experience?
going to the driving range when I was about four, and played my first 18 hole
round when I was seven. I don't
remember much of that other than I shot 133 and didn't yet know that wasn't
exactly a good score.
aspect of the game do you find most challenging?
toughest part of playing college golf is walking 36 holes on the first day of
each tournament. With each round
being about an eight-mile walk, we are all exhausted at the end of the
day. However, it's nothing
compared to the mental part of the game.
Q-How much of golf is
mental and what, if any, exercises do you do to both prepare yourself for and
react to circumstances during a round?
almost completely mental and anyone who plays is completely crazy. But over the years, I've learned to
keep an open mind and not expect perfection. This helps deal with the bad shots and keeping a level head.
Q-What part of your
game has improved the most since you arrived at UCSD?
overall consistency has improved the most since entering UCSD. Wydra is the best golf instructor I've
met so far and he has exponentially improved my game over the last few years.
Q-As a Northern
California native, what attracted you to UC San Diego and what role did golf
play in your decision to come south?
out of NorCal was one of the biggest attractions, and I had heard San Diego
wasn't a bad place to live. Golf
played a huge role in my decision, since I definitely wanted to play golf at a
school where I would get a valuable education and decided UCSD was a perfect
Q-What are Mike
Wydra's strengths as a coach?
a lot of years of experience, both as a top level player and a coach who has
won the national championship. In
addition, he is an excellent swing coach and has the unique ability to present concepts
to his players in multiple ways until the concept is grasped.
Q-What would the
average golfer be surprised to learn about playing collegiate golf?
he'd be surprised to learn the degree of difficulty of keeping up with school
work while traveling so often for tournaments, practicing between events, and
maintaining the level of your golf performance from week to week.
Q-Among this year's
UCSD players, best off the tee? Best putter? Most creative with trouble shots?
to say combining distance and accuracy, I am the best off the tee. Lewis Simon is the best putter, as his
performance this year would indicate.
I am the most creative with trouble shots, having the most experience
getting out of a tight spot and saving par.
foursome-who would be in the group?
(Woods), Ben Hogan, and Jack (Nicklaus).
Q-Among those you've
played, what's your favorite course? Which one was the toughest? Which is San
Diego's most under-rated?
course-Lake Merced in San Francisco. Toughest-Spyglass Hill in Monterey or
Mission Viejo. Not sure of San Diego's most under-rated, but my favorite here
that maybe only eight people play each day due to it's exclusiveness is The
Q-Among those you've
never played, which would you most like a chance to try?
National. It's one of the most exclusive courses in the world that we see every
year on TV. Getting to play would mean winning some large golf tournaments or
befriending someone in an extremely high place.
Q-In your estimation,
which of golf's four majors is the toughest to win?
Open. Like every major, it attracts the best field possible. Also, the course
is set up absolutely impossibly, where sometimes a four round score that is
over par will win. It's just a grueling test that completely examines every
aspect of your game including your mental toughness.
Q-What's been the
highlight of your golf career?
September 2010 before coming down to UCSD for my senior year, I won the
Northern California Golf Association's Valley Amateur which is one of the
NCGA's three major events.
Q-Do you plan on
playing after you graduate from UCSD?
OKASAKI-I plan on
continuing to play amateur events, nothing professional.
environmental science major. What are some of the most interesting classes
you've taken? What do you hope to do with that in the future?
the most interesting classes I've taken is Evolution. I'm not sure what I want to do yet. This year, I had an internship at the
Sustainability Resource Center on campus which proved to be quite interesting.
Q-What are three
things you'd like to accomplish in the next five years?
I'd like to get good at golf and make a career out of it. I don't plan to play professionally
because currently I am not good enough. But if something were to happen, such
as meeting a genie, and I became good enough to play, then I'd love to make a
career out of it. Failing in that, graduating and finding a respectable
job would not be a bad idea.
Previous Q & A Articles
Matt Herman (Men's Swimming & Diving) March 12, 2011
Hanalei Crowell (Women's Water Polo) March 5, 2011
Camille Gaito (Softball) February 23, 2011
Tim Shibuya (Baseball) February 8, 2011
Carl Eberts (Men's Volleyball) January 31, 2011
Neda Nguyen (Women's Swimming & Diving) January 24, 2011
Amy Bianchini (Fencing) January 14, 2011
Lauren Freidenberg (Women's Basketball) January 3, 2011
Christian Hatch (Men's Basketball) December 24, 2010
Blake Langland (Men's Swimming & Diving) November 27, 2010
Sarah McTigue (Women's Soccer) November 8, 2010
Brandon Yee (Men's Soccer) October 11, 2010
Bryce Madsen (Men's Water Polo) September 23, 2010
Annette Ilg (Women's Soccer) September 9, 2010
Ricci Luyties (Women's Volleyball Head Coach) August 24, 2010
Kevin Messey (Head Athletics Trainer) July 7, 2010
Dan O'Brien (Baseball Head Coach) June 18, 2010
Merrill (Women's Track & Field) June 14, 2010
Vance Albitz (Baseball) May 11, 2010
Erik Elliott (Men's Tennis) May 3, 2010
Kelly Fogarty (Women's Track & Field) April 23, 2010
Liz LaPlante (Women's Tennis Head Coach) April 15, 2010
Kirby St. John (Baseball) March 24, 2010
Dan Perdew (Men's Swimming) February 28, 2010
Calvin Ross (Men's Volleyball) February 20, 2010
Nicole Saari (Softball) February 4, 2010
Brad Kreutzkamp (Women's Water Polo Head Coach) January 18, 2010
Tyler Acevedo (Men's Basketball) January 4, 2010
Dr. Cliff Kubiak (UCSD's Faculty Athletic Rep) December 18, 2009
Chelsea Carlisle (Women's Basketball) December 9, 2009
Carianne Cunningham (Women's Swimming) November 23, 2009
Elena Inouye (Cross Country) November 6, 2009
David Morton (Men's Water Polo) October 28, 2009
Juan Pablo Carillo (Men's Swimming) October 19, 2009
Sara Spaventa (Women's Soccer) October 10, 2009
Karen Reis (Women's Volleyball) October 2, 2009
Daniel Pavitt (Men's Soccer) September 23, 2009
Daniel Anderson (Cross Country) September 11, 2009
Peter Gresham (Men's Water Polo) September 2, 2009
Alexia Zatarain (Women's Soccer) August 24, 2009
Elaine Chen (Women's Volleyball) August 12, 2009
Jared Kukura (Men's Soccer) July 30, 2009
Dawn Lee (Former Women's Soccer Standout) July 8, 2009
Rob Mamula (Director of Athletic Performance) June 18, 2009
Garrett Imeson (Baseball) June 8, 2009
Leon Baham (Men's Track & Field) May 21, 2009
Kristyn Lesovsky (Softball) May 8, 2009
Kazumi Negishi (Men's Tennis) May 5, 2009
Laiah Blue (Women's Track & Field) April 16, 2009
Ryan Andre (Men's Crew) April 2, 2009
Josh Tanner (Baseball) March 24, 2009
Anju Shimura (Women's Swimming) March 7, 2009
Stephanie Bocian (Women's Water Polo) February 20, 2009
Lauren Chastain (Softball) February 5, 2009
A.J. Maulhardt (Men's Basketball) January 28, 2009
Annette Ilg (Women's Basketball) January 22, 2009
Steven Hardy (Men's Swimming) January 13, 2009
Frank Fritsch (Men's Volleyball) January 5, 2009