Q&A with Bowen Sargent
Thursday the Virginia men’s golf team begins competition at the NCAA Northeast Regional in Galloway, N.J. at Galloway Country Club. UVa is the No. 9 seed in the 14-team field. The top five teams will move on to the NCAA Championships. Head coach Bowen Sargent talks to VirginiaSports.com about the team’s chances to advance to the NCAA Championships and the new regional format the NCAA is using this year.
Question: What are your general thoughts on returning to a NCAA regional championship?
Sargent: You have to be excited about it. We have had a couple of players play the course up there. The grasses and the conditions will be similar for a lot of the players on our team who are from the northeast. It will be familiar in that respect. It is a tough region. I’m sure all of the coaches feel the same way about the region they are in, but I honestly think this is the toughest region of the six. We have our work cut out for us. We’ll have to play well.
Question: Who was able to provide a scouting report?
Sargent: Conrad (Von Borsig) has played up there a couple of times. Apparently it is very tough. The greens are real tricky with a lot of undulation. The chipping areas are tough. It is not an overly tight golf course. It is suppose to be similar to Pine Valley.
Question: Three of your players – Von Borsig, Will Collins and Kyle Stough – all played at the NCAA Regional last year. How does that experience help this time around?
Sargent. I think it is going to help a lot. Having those three core guys who have been there and done it, it has to help. In their minds, they know they have done this before and they can accomplish it again. We are taking two freshmen (Ben Kohles and Bruce Woodall) with us, but both of them have been playing real well of late. They are tough-nosed kids, so I don’t see it being a problem with those guys.
Question: Will Collins had a very solid year for you but was not named to the All-ACC squad. Has that provided him some extra motivation going into the NCAAs?
Sargent: I think not being named to the all-conference team was very disappointing to him. I think he has something to prove here. I know he has been working extremely hard, which is good. He feels he has something to prove.
Question: What are your thoughts on the NCAA switching from three regional sites, with 27 teams each, to six sites with 13 or 14 teams? Do you like it?
Sargent: I wasn’t a proponent of it from the start simply because now you have more host teams and so now there are six teams every year that potentially have a home course advantage. My biggest concern was going to a site where there was a team playing on its home course. Luckily for us, we are going to a site that is not the home course for the host school (Columbia). My biggest concern is that I feel it provides too many teams a home course advantage. In theory, I think it makes it more difficult to advance from six regional sites than when we were operating with just three sites.
Question: Final exams are over and the players have extra time to work on their games. Is that an advantage?
Sargent: We played Kinloch (near Richmond) on Sunday and are stopping at Caves Valley (in Maryland) on the way up to New Jersey. So that’s a benefit. I told our team that if you look back at the history of this program when I have been here, we have always played well when school is not part of the equation. If you look at our spring break trips, we have always played well then. We’ve been to postseason twice since I’ve been here and we have been huge underdogs to advance both times. We almost did it my first time and we did advance last year.
Question: You took the team to see Dr. Bob Rotella, one of the most renowned sports psychologist in the nation, before heading out to the regional. It must be a huge benefit to have someone like that in your own backyard to use as a resource.
Sargent: Dr. Rotella has so much experience with guys on the PGA Tour who are going through similar situations that we are. Whether they are trying to qualify for an Open or a Masters. He deals with a lot of guys in Tour School where there is a lot of pressure in their situation. To some extent, he can alleviate some of that pressure. He can get our players to focus on being confident in themselves. Our guys pull a lot of confidence from him because they know he has taught and helped so many guys on the pro tour or golfers in situations just like this. When they hear about the superstars in golf and the pressures and situations they are in at times, it helps them to know that people have performed at higher levels and excelled in those situations. Doc is really good putting that into something they understand and they can take confidence in. He is really awesome. He is so passionate about golf and Virginia. When you combine the two … it is a great asset to our program.
Question: Any final thoughts on what it will take to place in the top five and advance to the NCAA Championships?
Sargent: They played a fall tournament up there and TCU beat Florida for the title. I think TCU (currently ranked No. 17) shot 42-over and Florida (currently ranked No. 8) was around 51-over. Apparently the conditions were windy up there, but from what Conrad has told us, it can be tough up there, even without the wind. From all I have heard, it is going to be a chipping and putting contest and par is going to be a good score. It is not going to be a birdie-fest. We are going to have to play well. We have a group of guys who have experienced this before and have experienced success at this level. They are all excited and ready to prove people wrong again.