Seniors Talk About Experiences, Superstitions and the Game of Golf
By: Kaitlin Fuelling, '13
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Currently playing in their last season at Santa Clara University, seniors Lauren Oh and Miki Ueoka have been fortunate to experience a great deal throughout their time on the Broncos women's golf team.
Miki Ueoka has become one of the most accomplished women's golfers in Santa Clara history, qualifying for the NCAA Tournament and earning All-WCC honors in three straight seasons on the Mission Campus.
Lauren Oh was transfer student from Loyola University Chicago and made her debut this last year finishing 22nd at the WCC Championships.
Recently, www.SantaClaraBroncos.com (SCB) was able to catch up with Miki (MU) and Lauren (LO) as they talked about their experiences, superstitions, and the game of golf.
1. At what age did you begin to play golf? How has it changed over the years? Does it feel different knowing this is your senior season here at Santa Clara University?
LO: I started golfing when I was 14 with my Grandpa. When he passed away, I decided to pursue it even more to understand why he loved the sport so much. Golf has changed for me tremendously over the years. It started out as a hobby and quickly turned into a passion. It made me the competitive person I am today and has taught me a great deal about motivation and commitment.
As a senior, I feel a lot more motivated to finish my college career strong for myself and for my team, and I want to be a good role model for the new freshmen on the team as well.
MU: I started playing golf when I was six and started as something I did for fun with my family. As I got older, I played in weekend tournaments for fun with my friends. It wasn't until I was around 12 that it got more serious for me.
It doesn't feel "different" knowing that its my senior year, but it is weird knowing that at some tournaments that I've gone to more than once that I won't be going back next year. It's been so fun and it's really bittersweet knowing that this is my last year.
2. Golf is a very mental sport, so how do you prepare to play? What might you consider the most difficult aspect of golf?
LO: Before each tournament round, I try my best to keep a clear mind. Any negative thinking could have a big impact on the course so it's important to think positively. The most difficult part of golf is not letting bad shots affect you mentally. If you're not able to get over the shot as soon as possible, it can easily ruin the rest of the round.
MU: We have a mental coach, Rick Sessinghaus, who helps us prepare for tournaments and is there for support in all aspects of the game when we need it. Personally, I think that the mental game is the most difficult aspect of golf and so I try hard to make sure that it's in check, especially going into a tournament. I'd say the biggest thing to help prepare is to just try to gain confidence in practice before the tournament.
3. If you could play a round of golf with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be? Do you have a favorite course to play on or wish to play on?
LO: I would play with my Grandpa. I was never good enough to play on an actual course with him while he was still alive, so if I were to play with him now, he'd be the most appreciative of my love for the game. I've never played Pebble Beach, and someday I really hope I will.
MU: My favorite course to play on is at home on Kauai. Wailua Golf Course is a municipal course, but I grew up playing there and so it's always really comfortable. I know that course really well and it's so nice to go back there. I think that the rounds of golf I play with my family are always fun, especially since we can't all get on the course at the same time.
4. What are some of your strengths?
LO: My biggest strength is my short game. It always amazes me how many different chip shots and putts you can have on different courses. They're the most fun and I feel the most accomplished when I execute a shot or putt I thought was really difficult.
MU: I'd say that my ball striking and ability to stay calm and focused throughout the round are my strengths. Golf is such a weird game that at any given time your strengths can be come weaknesses and your usual weaknesses become strengths. That's something I love about golf, it always presents a new challenge.
5. Do you have a unique pre-match strategy or superstitions?
LO: I don't have a specific pre-tournament routine. I'm a feel player as opposed to a technical player, so depending on the morning, I could focus more on my iron game or short game more. I'm not too superstitious, but I always play with Titleist 2's and mark it with a purple Sharpie.
MU: I don't really have superstitions, but I like to listen to a playlist of music while I warm up. The songs change from tournament to tournament, but I always have my headphones in.
6. Is there any potential or do you have any interest to continue to play competitively after college?
LO: I would love to compete after I finish my college career, but knowing how lonely and exhausting the professional life-style is, I would much rather go to law school or work.
MU: I think it would be really fun to play golf competitively, but I also know how much work it takes and how hard it is. I would like to give it a shot, but I'm also planning on applying to medical school. I'm trying to give myself opportunities so that when the time comes, I can make a decision instead of "having" to do something.