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Men's Golf Q&A: Clay Feagler

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Sophomore men's golfer Clay Feagler tells us about his recent success, including his victory at the Prestige at PGA West, and what that means for himself and the team going forward:

Clay  Feagler

Q: What's your mindset going into each tournament?
A:
My mindset in the fall was to just play well but I didn't end up having a very good season. My mindset now is to go out and actually try to win.

Q: How do you warm up at the beginning of a tournament?

A: My routine starts with eating breakfast, going to the putting green and then going to the chipping green. I don't like to warm up too much because then I'll get too tired for the first round.

Q: You've had an excellent spring season so far, what's working for you?

A: Confidence has really helped. After my win at the Prestige, my confidence was really boosted. I haven't changed my stroke or anything but just knowing that I am capable of not only competing but winning has really helped.

Q: What did you change from the fall to the spring season?

A: Golf-wise I didn't change anything, but I really adjusted my mental approach. I not only want to play well but to win. Having people beside me who have the shared belief in my abilities as I do has really helped with my success.

Q: What did it mean to win your first college tournament?

A: One of my biggest of accomplishments ever, especially in college. It didn't sink in until I got home because I was still in shock. It really meant a lot, though, because that's what I'm here for, I'm here to compete and to win both individually and as a team.

Q: What was most memorable about that win?

A: The birdie on 17 by far. I had 60 feet and I made it. It felt so good to make a clutch putt to win the tournament. God was definitely shining down on me in that moment and it felt amazing.

Q: The most recent event, the Southern Highlands Collegiate, is one of the best tournaments in the country each year, so how did it feel to do so well at that one?    

A: It's always nice to do well at a great event. I tied for 20th last year and followed up this year with a tie for third. Based off my recent success this season, the extra confidence is definitely what helped me.

Q: What are you hoping to accomplish during the rest of the season?

A: The team goal would be to get to match play at NCAAs. That has always been a dream of mine, to compete as a team and win a national championship. Personally, I just want to keep on the path that I'm currently on and see how I can progress. My main focus is on the team and doing whatever I can to contribute to the whole team's success.

Men's Golf Q&A: Sahith Theegala

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Sahith Theegala, a junior on the Pepperdine men's golf team, tells us about his outstanding 16-stroke win at the Waves Challenge this past week and what this personal and team victory means going into the rest of the spring season:

Sahith  Theegala

Q: How did you feel going into the first home tournament of the season?

A: It was good to get back into the competition because I haven't played a full tournament in about three months. I was excited to be out there myself and with my team. We knew were the best team going in so we all had a lot of energy. It was also the first tournament with our new assistant coach and we got a win.

Q: How is your new assistant coach, Blaine Woodruff?

A: He's really cool. He's really young so he's a good combination as a friend but also a good serious coach.

Q: What were you expecting going in?

A: As a team, we wanted a win. Last semester, we tried to emphasize the game more than the win but going into this tournament we were really confident in getting the win.

Q: You ended up having numerous difficulties before and during the tournament, including losing your keys, misplacing your putter and playing with two drivers. How did you overcome these challenges and stay focused?

A: I was definitely panicking before the round started but once the tournament I got into my tournament mindset and was focused. I tried to put it all in the back of my mind and stay in the zone. It also helped that it was one of our home courses. Having two drivers was intentional, though, because I use each of them for different circumstances.

Q: How did you feel about your 16-stroke win?

A: It felt surreal. I could never even imagine winning by five, let alone 16. It didn't set in until a couple days later. I played really well, and it was just one of those weeks where I felt really good. It also helped that it was our home course, I think that gave me some advantage. I also tried not to focus on my lead while I was playing, I just tried to focus on my own game.

Q: How do these personal and team wins set your team up for the rest of the spring season?

A: We're really pumped. We felt so good after the tournament that we just wanted to keep going and keep playing right after. We're under the radar in the golf world. In our next tournament we're playing some really good teams and we're excited to try to beat them. I think we're going to have a really good season.

Q: What can we expect from the golf team throughout the rest of the season?

A: I think we're going to win a lot this semester. This is only our second win since I've been here, but I think we'll pull out a couple more wins this semester. A lot of the guys are playing the best golf they've ever played, and confidence levels are up, so I think everything is coming together really well.

Q: Are the NCAA Championships in view?

A: I think we have a good shot. Last year we made Nationals and made the top 15 but didn't make top eight. Our goal this year is making match play, which is top eight. It will be hard, but we're all really excited.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish with the rest of the season?

A: Once I start a tournament I don't think about my own game I just think about how to help the team. Although, I would like to have another personal win this semester. If I keep going at the rate I'm at right now I have a chance to break the lowest single-season scoring average in Pepperdine history so that would be pretty amazing to break.

Men's Golf Q&A: Clay Feagler

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Clay Feagler is a sophomore for the Pepperdine's men's golf team and last week he achieved an amazing feat, getting two holes-in-one on back-to-back days at the Royal Oaks Intercollegiate. He tells us about this incredible experience:

Clay  Feagler

Q: At your recent tournament you had two holes-in-one. How was that whole experience?

A: This tournament was different for us because we usually don't get to play with our teammates but this one we did get to. That added with each of my holes-in-one was amazing. Since it was my team with me everyone got hyped and started giving high-fives and dogpiling me. It still hasn't sunk in yet that I actually did that.

Q: Take me through your first hole-in-one (during Monday's first round). What did it feel like?

A: It was in the first round, the third hole of the day, a 195-yarder. My coach and I were talking about where to hit it. Then I hit the shot and it was right at the pin so I didn't know if it was going to get there or not. It hit the green, kicked left, then fed right straight into the hole. I was just like, "Whoa." I didn't know what to think but I threw my club up in the air then my teammates rushed and started high-fiving me. It was so cool.

Q: How about the second hole in one (during Tuesday's third round). Was there anything different?

A: This one was during the final round on my fourth hole of the day. I was the first one to hit on the tee so I had no idea what club to hit or how to hit it. So my coach and I decided it was best to go with a 7-iron. It was 179 yards. I hit the shot and this time it was looking really good, it felt more pure than the first one. It hit right on the green and rolled into the hole. It was cool this time because the Michigan coach and team were there so they all congratulated me along with my teammates getting hyped. It was so cool to be there with my team since we are basically brothers and to make a hole-in-one, let alone two, which is just unspeakable.

Q: How many other holes-in-one have you made?

A: I got one when I was 10, which was so long ago that the golf course I got it on doesn't even exist anymore. My dad has made three, so after I got my first one of the tournament he texted me saying, "You are still one behind me." So when I made the next one he said, "Wow, we are tied now." I've had a couple close calls but could never even imagine getting two at one tournament.

Q: How was the rest of your tournament?

A: I ended shooting 5-over-par with a 76 (in the first round), which isn't great. Through the rest of the round I was still a little caught off-guard after making a hole-in-one since I was still shocked. It almost made it harder to keep playing since I had all this energy and my heart was still racing from sinking it that stayed with me through the rest of that round. The second round I shot a 67 and I felt like I bounced back. Then in the final round I had experience on the course from the other rounds so I knew how to play it but the conditions were pretty poor. But I did end up making the other hole-in-one that day so that was really cool.

Q: What were the practices like leading up to this? Was there anything special?

A: It was a just some pretty regular practices leading up. It was just the normal hitting with certain clubs and hitting different flights. We prepared ourselves for what can happen in a competitive atmosphere.

Q: Overall how would you say the tournament went for your team?

A: We finished sixth. We haven't really been playing up to what we usually play to. But last year was pretty similar and we ended up finding it in the spring and making it to the NCAA Championships, which I hope happens again, and I feel like it's going to. This was really a fun week for our whole team, especially me, since for all that to happen was unreal and the addition of being with my team was great.

Q: What's it like with Pepperdine's coaches and your teammates now that it's your second year?

A: It has been great. Last year I didn't know everyone at the start but this year I am good friends with all the guys, which makes the whole experience more enjoyable. Our coach is a great guy. He helps us with everything, even with school. I feel we have a really good group of guys because we can talk to each other about anything and that they genuinely care about how you are doing.

Q: Last year you achieved All-WCC first team honors. Do you have goals for like that for this year?

A: If I were to answer that a month or two ago I would say my goal is to be player of the year. But now I am just trying to improve my game and get better every day. It would be definitely be cool to be first team again but I am not focusing on that. That would just be an added bonus to me improving my game.

Q: How would you say you adjusted from the high school golf scene to college?

A: In high school you are only playing one team while in college we are playing 15 different teams at once. It is much more team-oriented versus high school. Now I have realized just how much each shot I take counts for my team. But I definitely adjusted better this year and now know more of what to do on the course and how to prevent bad scores. After I learned how to cope with school and golf everything has been much better.

Clay Feagler, a freshman on the men's golf team, has posted three top-10 finishes and four top-20 results in four spring tournaments. He tells us about how he's made such a strong improvement between fall and spring, and about his time on the men's golf team so far in general:

Clay  Feagler

Q: You've had a really great spring season. Did you think you would make such an impact, this early on, as a freshman?

A: Yeah, I thought I could make a big impact, actually. I thought I could make a huge impact in the fall but unfortunately it didn't happen that way. I just wasn't comfortable with balancing school and golf. Also when it's your first semester you tend to be overwhelmed and I definitely was.

Q: There's been a big improvement and difference for you already between your fall and spring season. What made this difference? What did you work on to get better?

A: I think the biggest things that have made a difference are just playing my game and limiting mistakes on the golf course. My game has always been accuracy and during the fall I kind of strayed away from that. Also, when I was out playing golf, I would tend to think about assignments for school and just get distracted. The things I worked on were mostly mental and nothing mechanics-wise. I just really worked on having a calm demeanor on the golf course and not getting flustered.

Q: What's been your favorite moment so far throughout your whole freshman season?

A: My favorite moment so far was playing in front of the Pepperdine fans at North Ranch Country Club. Also, to win there in front of the people watching made it extra special. 

Q: What are your personal goals for the rest of the season?

A: My personal goal for the rest of the season is to finish every tournament for the rest of the year inside the top 15. If I sneak a top five or a win, then that's great.

Q: What are the team goals for the rest of the season?

A: Our team goals are to be inside the top 10 before the season is over and to win our conference.

Q: Why did you choose Pepperdine both to come to school to and in terms of the golf team?

A: I chose Pepperdine as a school because the coaches were great, the school was great, the size of the class was the perfect size for me and who would not like that view!

Q: What have you enjoyed most about the team so far?

A: The things I like most about the team are just the people that are on it. We have a great group of guys on it and having those guys care for you and root for you is just great.

Q: What do you like and enjoy about the coaches?

A: They are here to help you with your game and to get you to the next level. You can also go to them to talk about anything with them. They really care for you and that's what great coaches do.

Men's Golf Q&A: Roy Cootes

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Roy Cootes is a sophomore on the men's golf team, and is one of the team's leading scorers. He had one of the best freshmen seasons in school history, and he has carried it over to his second season. He collected top-six finishes in the last three tournaments of the fall, and 11 of his 15 rounds were below-par. He plans to keep this impressive record going throughout the spring season, and he talks about how he plans to do so:
Roy  Cootes

Q: What did you do to prepare for this season?

A: I played about four or five tournaments over summer to get me ready for the season. I played against other college golfers around the nation, and I played pretty well enough to be confident coming into the season. Having the new freshmen coming in has pushed myself to get better. It's been fun to have a new group of people come in and form good team chemistry. 

Q: How do you perceive your play so far in the season, and how will you end this year?

A: This season, I could not have asked for a better record so far. For spring, if I could just keep doing the same thing, then it will be a good season.

Q: How has the Pepperdine golf program influenced you?

A: We have two great coaches, and they have helped me refine my craft much better. It's good to surround myself with a great group of people. The team chemistry is awesome. We have a great group. We all get along together, and we love to hang out with each other.

Q: You have a little more than two months between fall and spring. How do you or the team plan to maintain the momentum?

A: We will keep having practices and weights. Over Christmas break, we will each play a tournament, and have that lead into the spring. It will give us an idea of where we are, and what we need to work on to improve.

Q: What was your personal aspirations for this season, and do you think you have exceeded the level you expected to achieve so far?

A: I feel like I have exceeded my expectations. Going into the season, my plan was to not finish outside the top 20, and I definitely exceeded that. It's been fun. I love being here, and it makes everything better when you play much better than you expect yourself to do.

Q: What are your aspirations for the next two and a half years at Pepperdine?

A: To win a national championship as a team over the next two years. It would be awesome. This year, I hope we get to Nationals, and I think we are capable of achieving it. For me personally, to be an All-American in the years to come. I want to focus on being a good teammate and achieving many goals as a team.

Q: What motivates you to play really well?

A: The guys on the team, and everyone involved in the process, motivates me to push further, and push the team further as well. I think it gets us to where we are.

Q: What does Pepperdine golf mean to you?

A: It's heart. We have a lot of heart on the team. We always play for each other and not for ourselves. The bond gets stronger and stronger as time goes on. We always have each other's backs and we know that the team is there to support and encourage each other.

Men's Golf Q&A: Joshua McCarthy

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We spoke with Joshua McCarthy as he begins his journey at Pepperdine. As an experienced freshman golfer, he brings with him his share of stories from competing in big tournaments, such as this summer's U.S. Amateur and the Ellie Mae Classic:


Joshua  McCarthy

Q: Welcome to Pepperdine! How do you like it here so far, and what helped you choose Pepperdine?

A: Before I chose to come to Pepperdine, I was looking into different schools like everyone else does. One thing that stood out to me was the people at Pepperdine. While I was here for an official visit, the way our coach was and the way our team was gave me a positive vibe. I felt that I could definitely grow here as a person and as a golfer. It felt like a place I can thrive, and I know that it is.

Q: How do you feel that the Pepperdine golf program will set you apart from others?  

A: I think it is definitely going to have a positive impact on me. As a golfer, my ultimate goal is to play on the PGA Tour one day. I know there are a couple of PGA players that have come out of this school, and I have seen how things are done at Pepperdine. It'll help me to pursue my passion and every day I feel that I am getting closer to my goal.

Q: What's the team chemistry like?

A: I love our team. Everyone gets along. Because it's a team sport, everyone works toward the same goal. It really helps if you have a good group of guys, like we do. When I go to a tournament, I'm fighting for my score, and I know that my teammate is tracking behind me so I don't want to let him down. I love playing for my team.

Q: You competed in the U.S. Amateur and the Ellie Mae Classic this summer. Tell me more about those experiences.  

A: The Ellie Mae Classic is a professional tournament, but they offered a junior exemption. I wanted to see if I could compete, and I was lucky to be selected to play. I was excited to get to play with those golfers that I look up to. It was such a great honor. I learned a lot and saw how these great players play on the course. It is definitely different to see them on TV, and in reality. Since they play with so much passion and intensity, it is cool to be around them and it inspired me. The U.S. Amateur was also another good experience. I learned a lot there as well, and I got to meet fellow Pepperdine golfers and introduce myself before coming to Pepperdine.

Q: What did you get out of these experiences?

A: Those experiences made me more confident. After competing in big tournaments, I was not as intimidated as before. It gives me something that I can work toward to play with these incredible players. I need to practice harder so I can be better at what I do.

Q: Did anything stop you from playing golf?

A: I always love playing golf. I wouldn't do it if I weren't passionate about it, even though I struggle sometimes. I have to make changes in my game, to get better. A lot of times in golf, it's mostly one step backward to get two steps forward. It can be frustrating when I get stuck, but my love of the game pushes me further.

Q: When did you start playing and who introduced you to golf? 

A: I started golf when I was 6. My dad got me into it. I was decent in sports, because my parents put me into different sports. I played everything and I didn't like anything too physical. My dad decided to put me in golf, because we thought it's a mellow sport. I didn't have to be aggressive. We play sometimes together, and I love it.

Q: What goals do you want to accomplish in the next four years?

A: Since I want to play professional golf, I would love to improve. It would be nice as a team to win a national championship, and make a positive impact on the team.

Men's Golf Q&A: Cody McManus

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Cody McManus, a senior on the men's golf team, won the WCC title as a sophomore and has a 74.12 scoring average in his three years. As he begins his last season with Pepperdine, he shared his thoughts on his time here and how he is looking to finish strong:

Cody  McManus 

Q: Describe to me your typical day as a golfer here at Pepperdine.

A: Usually we have workouts in the morning from 6:15 a.m., and have class from 8 a.m. to noon. Then we grab a quick lunch, and head to the golf course by 1:15 p.m. Some golfers decide to stay until 6 at night, and grab some dinner while there. Since we're students who are athletes, we have to come back and do some homework before we go to bed. It's a long day, but it is rewarding, and makes everything worth it. I enjoy it, because in the process we are hanging out with a really cool group of guys who are after the same goal in life.

Q: What is your favorite thing about golf? What attracted you to play golf?

A: What attracted me to golf was the difficulty of the game, and how many different aspects there are. Golf provides the ability to meet new people, since you can play with anyone regardless of their ability. Golf is an amazing sport with rich history.

Q: Your senior season is about to start. How have you prepared for your last season?

A: I have prepared myself to be less selfish and to make myself more of a resource for my teammates. I wanted to move away from result-oriented goals, such as 'I want to win this tournament,' but focus on being a better teammate. We have a really good group of guys and every freshman group that came after me has grown so much. I want to be able to help my teammates as much as possible and hand down my knowledge of golf. I want to see the team do well as a whole. The way I've prepared is the mindset of thinking that I am going to help these guys as much as I can to get acclimated to our coaches, because it is a hugely different experience from high school golf to the collegiate level. For the guys that are already adapted to the team, I help them to be more involved to the team and to be the best they can be.

Q: How are the new additions to the team, and how is the team chemistry?

A: I am surprised how talented they are. Our coach has done a really amazing job at recruiting our new golfers ever since he has been at Pepperdine. The guys are super talented, and they are good guys overall. I am content with how they are into golf, and willing to put so much work towards our common goal. They came in ready to play, to put energy into the sport and to be part of our team. I think we have very high expectations of the team, but it is not outlandish, since I believe in the level our golfers bring to the team.

Q: When you look back at past seasons at Pepperdine, what memory means the most to you?  

A: I have lots of moments that I would love to look back on, but the growth of the team as a whole since my freshman year means a lot to me. We started as a team that was ranked outside of the top 100, and our program is now nationally recognized. I really appreciate seeing the progression of our team each year, Coach Beard's progression each year, and seeing the guys working toward the same thing.

Q: If you could go back, what would you tell your freshman self?

A: I have a ton of advice for my freshman self. I was an awful student. I was terrible. I would try to take shortcuts in whatever I could. I always had a feeling that I was alone in this. A big piece of advice I would tell myself is that there are so many resources and there are so many people willing to help you here at Pepperdine. If you give them the opportunity to help you, then they go out of their way to help you do better in what you are going through. There are so many people who are willing to support you. That was the biggest struggle that I had to overcome, and ever since, I have avoided taking shortcuts. That's never a good idea. I learned to take the necessary steps.

Q: How have Pepperdine and the golf team influenced you so far?

A: They taught me how to care for one another. High school golf was never taken seriously, and it's not where you are recruited professionally. Once you get put into a team aspect, it's really not about yourself anymore, and it's not individualized. You're on a team, and you are going to win and lose as a team. You share those moments and memories with each other, and I learned that it's better to share the moment with other people. I've grown to be more open with people and not to be independent. This was a big lesson for me and it made me realize that I should be a helpful teammate as others have been for me. You're here to learn, and you are here to teach.

Q: What are your plans after you graduate? In five years, where do you see yourself?

A: I want to follow my passion. I have a couple of passions outside of golf that I have always wanted to pursue. I am very excited to move on to the real world. Golf has been dominating my life for 12 years, and I am thrilled to explore my other passions.

Frederick Wedel, a senior on the men's golf team, has appeared in 45 tournaments and 134 rounds over the past four years. He's all over the school's record book, including a career scoring average of 72.78 that ranks fifth all-time at Pepperdine. As his college golf career gets closer to the end, including next week's WCC Championships, he reflects on his time at Pepperdine:

Frederick  Wedel

Q: As you are preparing to leave Pepperdine after your senior year, what does it mean for you to leave your name so significantly on the golf program's legacy and in the record books?

A: Helping with the program culture and leaving a legacy with this team means substantially more to me than any of the records. My success is a culmination of hard work and being surrounded by solid individuals that have all helped me along the way. It's a special feeling to see that I have done things that other golfers in history haven't, but records are meant to be broken and somebody is always doing something special so that just keeps things in perspective to constantly improve and get better.

Q: What have your four years here at Pepperdine and specifically on the men's golf team meant for you?

A: These have been the best four years of my life and the guys I spend time with day in and day out I have developed friendships with that will last forever. Being a part of the program here at Pepperdine has taught me so much about life and what it means to be successful.   

Q: What achievement are you most proud of as you look back on your career?

A: My first college win at the Princeville Invitational in Hawaii my junior year. Any time your name is at the top of the leaderboard at the end of the event you did something special. That was just an amazing week in a strong field shooting 64-63-69, posting 18, 36 and 54-hole Pepperdine records, and beating the #1 and #2 players in the country.  

Q: What is your favorite memory from your golf career here at Pepperdine?

A: I have so many across my four years that it pains me to have to pick one. I have different memories with each individual, but going to the Masters in Augusta, Georgia, recently was unbelievable. The Masters is the most prestigious event in all of golf and getting to see just how perfect that piece of property is, walking Amen Corner, and doing it with a group of my best friends was truly something else.

Q: What do you think you've learned or gained from being part of the Pepperdine golf team all these years?

A: You learn from your successes but even more from your failures. How you bounce back and learn from your negative experiences or struggles defines how successful you will be on the golf course and especially in life.

Q: What do you think helped you succeed and perform so well throughout your golf career?

A: I think first and foremost it's the fact that I want to play golf for a living and that I will never be that satisfied with any of my achievements in college because the ultimate goal is to be the best golfer in the world professionally. Winning majors such as the Masters or the U.S. Open. Reaching the pinnacle of the game is what drives me. Second is falling in love with the process of getting better each and every single day. Envisioning success, implementing a plan, going through with that plan, and having the drive and self-discipline to do so.

Q: What is up next for you, either in general but also with golf?

A: My plan after postseason is to move back to Houston and play amateur events for the summer. I want to play in one more U.S. Amateur and enjoy all those events one final time before turning professional. I will go to Q-School, which is basically qualifying for the PGA Tour, in the fall of 2016 where I will turn professional then.

Q: As Pepperdine is the defending WCC champion what are your thoughts going into the league tournament this time around?

A: The only thing on our mind is winning. We are the top-ranked team in our conference by a decent margin and we absolutely have the ability to win again. We have broken quite a few team records this year but still haven't won, unfortunately, so that is our ultimate goal.

Q: What are thoughts that go through your mind right before going into the WCC Championships?

A: Just trying to get better every day and improve to give ourselves the best chance of winning. Obviously postseason has a different feeling than other events but we are just trying to build momentum.

Q: What's it been like for you being a senior with a lot of freshmen in the lineup this year?

A: It's a challenge that I have accepted with open arms. I understand being a senior that I have to be a leader and a role model for these guys, and I want to. I have been doing my best to help them fit into our culture and show them what it means to be successful. Teaching them to be the best individuals they can be and providing that support to help them grow and mature. I have to hold myself accountable as well because I understand they watch how I carry myself and pay attention to what I say. Ultimately I just want the best for them and these guys are like the little brothers I never had. 

Q: What advice would you give, or have you given, to freshmen starting their journey that you wish someone would have given you?

A: I believe that having balance in your life is the most important aspect to your well-being. Handling school, golf and relationships can be difficult but if you can find balance with everything you will find yourself a happier person and give yourself a better chance to be successful.

Q: Any other reflections?

A: Honestly, I just want to thank everybody who helps to make everything possible for this golf program. From boosters who help fund the program to the people I have gotten to know in the compliance office. I know from being around four years that a lot goes in behind the scenes and a lot of individuals work to make this all possible for us, so I genuinely appreciate all the support from them.

Lorenzo Magagnin, a freshman golfer and an international student from Italy, sheds light on what it's like transitioning from living and playing golf in Italy to becoming a successful student-athlete here at Pepperdine:

Lorenzo  Magagnin

Q: When did you start playing golf?

A: I started playing for fun when I was around 6 while my main sport was skiing and because of my father's passion for it.

Q: How did your golf career progress and how did you end up coming to Pepperdine to play golf?

A: I began to see my first remarkable results at the age of 16, beating the number one player in the field in a head-to-head match play and coming in tied for third at the under-16 national championship. From then on, I developed my game to be more solid, earning several wins on both junior and amateur Italian fields, reaching my career best of 18th in the Italian amateur order of merit and just outside the top 1,000 in the WAGR (World Amateur Golf Ranking). I was recruited by the former assistant coach that watched me playing in an event in Florida and finally signed with Coach Michael Beard at the beginning of 2015.

Q: What do you most enjoy about golf?

A: The skills needed in order to combine both athletic and mental capacities. The endurance that this sport requires, the willpower not to give up on every single shot, even the ones which seem un-useful. I have always loved how in golf the only true challenge is beating yourself. If you get better, start beating your handicap and consequently beating the course (going under par), but you stop there, you will only end up being a good player. Otherwise, being able to commit on every shot, without fear and trusting your skills and the process you went through, that for me is the next step. Golf is very fascinating since it is the only sport in which you cannot really control everything (wind, grass, bounces, course conditions), so you have to be very humble and accept everything that happens, even if "bad luck" occurs.

Q: When did you know or decide that golf was the sport for you & going to be a big part of your life?

A: I think I realized it during high school, probably around when I was 16.

Q: What else about your golf career has been important or memorable for you?

A: I had the luck to have a great family that always supported me and a great swing instructor that followed me throughout my entire golf career. Knowing that those people have always been there for me helped me a lot, especially going through difficult moments.

Q: What do you like specifically about playing golf at Pepperdine?

A: The weather is perfect and I feel like there is no better place to be in the world. The people are awesome, the coaches are great and the atmosphere surrounding the athletic department is not one of anxiety or fear, but instead trust and support.

Q: How do you prepare for a tournament and what has helped you do well so far?

A: In order to get to the tournament in perfect shape I try to practice for less time but more quality the week before. I usually focus on the worst part of my game so that I can feel more confident on it throughout the competition.

Q: How is playing golf here different from playing in Italy?

A: It is completely different. The type of grass on greens, fairways and rough is different and sometimes the ball reacts in an opposite way. The competition too is very strong here, the golf level is way higher and this is one of the reasons why I came, to prove myself.

Q: How was the transition coming here both as an international student and as a college athlete now?

A: It was not easy at all. Fortunately, thanks to my parents, I was able to study English since I was young, and so the language was not that big of an issue. I really like to study and that was a huge advantage, since I always find the stimuli to focus even when I am very tired. Being a student-athlete is not easy, for sure, but with good time management and strong willpower and commitment, it is possible to find space also for some fun.

Q: What have you been most proud of or do you consider your biggest accomplishments since coming here so far?

A: I earned a 3.9 GPA during my first semester of school. I have played four tournaments so far, attaining a top 10 at the Desert Mountain Intercollegiate in Arizona.

Sahith Theegala, a freshman men's golf student-athlete, sheds light on what has helped him to do so well thus far season (he had a 70.73 scoring average in his first five tournaments), and how he has dealt with transitioning from high school to college athletics.

Sahith  Theegala

Q: What have you found most challenging about coming to play golf as a college athlete versus playing in high school?

A: I'd say the most challenging transition between high school and college golf so far is getting used to playing with other teams who are really good. In high school there would only be a few good teams and even the good teams only had a few good players, whereas now in college every team has five solid guys out there playing for them. You really have to step up with your best game to compete in the tournaments now.

Q: What has been the most fun or rewarding thing about it? 

A: The most fun thing about college golf for me goes hand-in-hand with the most challenging part. Just in my first season alone I've gotten the opportunity to play with some of the nation's best golfers, and that has opened my eyes in terms of what needs to be done in order to become great, which I'd say is rewarding to me. 

Q: How have you enjoyed playing for Pepperdine specifically and with your teammates/the team here?

A: I've really enjoyed playing with the team so far and I have a ton of fun with them whenever we go out on the course. The guys are a blast to be around and in the quick few months I've had with the guys, they've become like family to me. I know every time they step on the course, they are grinding as hard as they can for every stroke. Also I'd say the coaches are a huge part of the team, and they've really made this whole experience much more enjoyable.

Q: What is your overall background with golf? 

A: I started golf at a young age, playing my first tournament at the age of 6. My dad was a big sports guy and he watched a good amount of golf, and I guess I just picked it up from watching the pros on TV. I haven't looked back ever since. My dad has always been my biggest supporter, and he is a huge reason why I'm playing golf at the level I am right now.

Q: What advice would you give other athletes transitioning from high school to college athletics, or maybe advice you wish someone would have given you before starting out the transition?

A: The biggest piece of advice I'd give athletes coming into college athletics would be to make sure you manage your time well. Time management is huge when you're traveling so much, because of those missed days of school. You need to plan out when your exams and important due dates are for assignments so that you aren't overwhelmed, but also at the same time balancing social activities/rest/etc. Also a piece of advice I got from other guys on the team is to communicate with the professors if you're having an issue with anything, as they are willing to help you.

Q: What is an experience in particular that stands out to you so far in the season? 

A: The thing that stands out the most for me this season so far was getting to play with the #4 college golfer in the nation in the tournament in Hawaii. It really showed me what it takes to be successful at this game, as he was an All-American last year. 

Q: You did really well as a high school golf athlete, and you've been doing well so far in your college career. What helps motivate you to do well and what goals do you set for yourself?

A: One thing that is true with any sport is that you can always get better. Rankings are definitely something I look at to see where I am in the big scheme of things, but at the same time it's just another number. Looking at guys who are better than me or even watching pros play on TV really drives me to become better myself and to see how I can help the team more. Even looking at my teammates and what they do well is extremely motivating. Obviously the goal this year would be to win the NCAA Championships and that goal is always a driving factor for everyone on the team including me. Also, being an All-American at the end of the year wouldn't hurt a bit.

Q: You did very well academically in high school while also playing well in your sport. How do you balance doing well academically with doing well in golf and have you found that challenging at all here at Pepperdine? 

A: For me it's all about time management. I try and make sure I have sufficient time to balance all my academics with other aspects of my life, and try not to make golf the sole thing I do. Shout-out to my mom for always keeping me on top of my grades throughout my junior career. I'd say I've definitely had a harder time at Pepperdine just because of the more self-studying way of college. Instead of having a lot of work, I mostly just find myself with a lot of readings or simply needing to study for tests, which I think is a lot harder to get yourself to do without slacking off.

The Pepperdine men's golf team finished up a record-setting Alister MacKenzie Invitational on Tuesday, led by senior Frederick Wedel, who tied for second place individually with a 16-under 197. Wedel already held the school's 54-hole record at 20-under and the 16-under now gives him the top two spots on that list. Wedel reveals how his experiences and successes at Pepperdine have shaped him into the golfer that he is today, and what he hopes to accomplish in the future:

Frederick  Wedel

Q: How were you feeling after your tie for second place at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational?

A: I did some great things this week, hit a bunch of quality shots and it was great for my confidence moving forward, but it's extremely disappointing coming that far and being in that situation to win and losing by one shot. Winning is special, coming in second isn't.

Q: What was working well for you at the tournament -- any specific strategies, techniques, your mindset, etc.?

A: Nothing out of the ordinary. I know I am capable of playing with the best. Posting a first-round 64 and taking the lead just put me in a good position mentally. From then on it was just golf and staying in the moment, without worrying about the end result.

Q: What are your personal goals for your senior year at Pepperdine?

A: As far as golf goes, I definitely want to be an All-American. But my goal for the year is to win three tournaments, and to win three I have to be in contention week in and week out. So if I can win three times, being an All-American will take care of itself.

Q: What are the team's goals for the season?

A: The team is highly motivated to have a great year and this is without a doubt the most talented team we have had in my four years here at Pepperdine. We obviously want to defend our conference title from last year, but during the regular season we are just focused on winning. Once the postseason comes around, we want to make it to match play at Nationals, which is the final eight teams in the country.

Q: Looking back, what has your experience at the 2014 U.S. Amateur meant to you/how has it affected your golf career? (Wedel made the semifinals)

A: My experience from the U.S. Amateur is something that I constantly think about because it was such an emotional week for me and the people closest to me. Being on national television and knowing the world was watching didn't faze me, so it has allowed me to handle basically every other pressure-packed moment I face. I can think back to my experience at the Amateur, being one hole away from the Masters and U.S. Open, and handling that pressure well has given me confidence. That event just made me truly believe in myself that I have game that's good enough to compete with the best golfers in the world.

Q:  What has your experience as a student-athlete at Pepperdine been like?

A: It's been an amazing experience. Difficult, but a learning experience that will impact the rest of my life in a positive way. More importantly than the golf, I have developed strong relationships with people throughout my four years that I will have for my lifetime. My teammates and coaches are all guys that I respect and love, and being able to experience being a student-athlete with those guys means more to me than anything else.

Q: What have you enjoyed most about being a part of the Pepperdine golf team?

A: The memories I have made with my best friends because these guys are like my brothers. Whether in Hawaii or just hanging around campus, I like to think these will be some of the best years of my life so I just appreciate and enjoy them while I can. Lots and lots of good laughs thinking back about it all. I graduate in May and those days are now limited, which is truly unfortunate, so I'm trying to live in the moment and value my last few months as a part of the men's golf team here.

 

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