July 28, 2013
By Jon Cooper
Being good at any sport requires mental strength, but perhaps no sport requires as much ability to conquer one’s mental side as golf.
Sometimes it seems like the game is one big mental trick.
It starts with the basic scoring where being UNDER PAR is encouraged, and having the highest negative score is celebrated.
Then there is the seemingly endless downtime between shots. That gives players so much time to think about things like, how the shot they just hit affects the one they’re about to hit, how both shots affect the hole they’re on, how this hole could affect and could possibly un-do their entire round and possibly their entire tournament… The mind-bending possibilities are endless.
Over time, redshirt senior Bo Andrews has learned to manipulate the game’s mental side, using it to his advantage. That, in turn, has allowed him to take advantage of his physical skills. It’s added up to superb play during the spring, something that carried over into the summer.
“I think you start to believe in yourself,” said the Raleigh, N.C., native. “I know I have the physical ability. I have the game. It was just mentally knowing that I can do it. I have some great teammates. We want to push each other and basically do the best we can so we can get ready for the fall and spring of next year. Just get better as a team. If you get better every day in a year you’re going to be a whole lot better.”
Andrews’ summer got a whole lot better last week, when he finished second at Tuesday’s qualifier, held at Salisbury Country Club in Midlothian, Va., earning the final spot for the U.S. Amateur Championships to be held Aug. 12-18 at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. He survived the 36-hole day, then won the final spot on the second extra hole of a playoff against VCU’s Adam Ball.
“It feels great,” said the Raleigh, N.C., native. “I’ve never qualified and never played in it before. So I’m really excited.”
Earning that spot didn’t come easy, as it required him to not only edge out Ball, but to out-think himself.
“You have to almost trick your mind into not limiting, not thinking that you’re playing 36 holes,” he said. “In the qualifier, you have to play really well, like any tournament. So you’re trying to make as many birdies as you can. When someone tells you you’re done, you’re done and you walk off the course and see if it was good enough.”
Andrews has been “good enough” if not better for most of the summer. He finished as runner-up at the 52nd Northeast Amateur at the Wannamoisett Country Club in East Providence, Rhode Island, shooting an 8-under 264, two shots back of Alabama’s Cory Whitsett (Andrews made a dramatic final-day run Whitsett, shooting a 7-under 62). A couple of weeks later he tied for fourth at the 20th Sahalee Players Championship in Sammamish, Wash., shooting a one-over 289, again finishing two shots off the pace. This past weekend, Andrews played in the prestigious 55th Annual Porter Cup at Niagara Falls Country Club in Lewiston, N.Y.
Those events followed a season that began with him winning the Gary Koch Invitational in April then helping Georgia Tech finish as national runner-up in the NCAAs.
For his play, Andrews was recognized as all-region by the GCAA and was ranked No. 105 at season’s end in the Golfstat Cup. His classroom excellence also was commended, as he was named to the All-ACC Academic Golf Team and, in the past week, was named Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-America Scholar by the Golf Coaches Association.
While Andrews didn’t necessarily imagine the extent of his success, he knew that good things were on the horizon, even though the early numbers didn’t necessarily bear him out.
“Honestly, in the early spring I was playing really well but I didn’t have anything to show for it,” he said. “I knew if I just kept telling myself something good is going to happen it was going to work out. I just kept plugging away, luckily stuff kind of worked out.”
It still is and keeps Andrews going.
Globetrotting isn’t as big a deal when things are going as well as they are for Andrews, who actually talked to Sting Daily while in the Philadelphia Airport, waiting out a flight delay, nor is the grind of playing all these rounds.
“It’s really fun to play all these tournaments in these cool places and play with the really great players and kind of see where your game stacks up,” he said, “Golf is so up and down. Before I hadn’t appreciated as much the times that I played well. Now I know that it’s not always great. So the times that it does go well you’ve got to enjoy it but then move on and not be satisfied and keep striving for more and doing better.”
On Monday, Andrews will move on to the 111th Western Amateur at The Alotian Club in Roland, Ark., then get ready for the U.S. Am., where he’ll have plenty of familiar faces.
Andrews was the first Yellow Jacket to qualify to travel to Massachusetts but was joined two days later by teammates Anders Albertson, Seth Reeves and Ollie Schniederjans, who earned three of the five spots at the sectional qualifier held at Capital City Club’s Crabapple Course.
The Jackets could add two more by the end of the coming week, as Richy Werenski and Michael Hines also tee it up in qualifiers, Werenski at the Cape Cod National Golf Club in Brewster, Mass., Hines at the Tennessee National Golf Club in Loudon, Tenn.
“It wouldn’t surprise me at all if we had the whole team in the U.S. Am,” said Andrews. “We have a lot of really good players and good coaches that taught us some great things. Obviously, I’m rooting for them. I know they’re prepared. Let’s just see if they can do it.”
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