Women's Golf senior Devan Andersen and junior Julia Best both posted strong final round scores at the NCAA Central Regionals (May 11-13) and finished in a tie for sixth and 13th, respectively, to propel themselves into the upcoming 2006 NCAA Women's Golf National Championships as individual qualifiers. As a team, the Longhorns will not advance to the NCAA finals, as the squad placed 11th, with only the top eight teams from each regional advancing.
Currently, Andersen and Best are in Columbus, Ohio preparing for the opening round of the NCAA Championships.
The NCAA Championships run Tuesday-Friday, May 23-26 and are hosted by Ohio State on the Scarlet Course. Both the Traditions Golf Club and the redesigned (2006) Scarlet Course are Jack Nicklaus designs. The course will play 6,203 yards and is a par 72.
The tie for sixth is Andersen's career-best in a Regional, and her score of seven-over par 223 ties her career-best (set at the 2004 West Regional). The score was her best of the season and stands as her highest tourney finish of 2006. The Guadalajara, Mexico native will be making her third trip to the NCAA Championship. She is currently second on the team with a 76.62 per round average.
Best's tie for 13th at the regionals (a nine-over par 225) also was her career-best finish at a regional. The Bulverde, Texas native shot back-to-back rounds of 76 then carded a 73 in her final 18 holes to keep her first NCAA individual invite hopes alive. Best is leading the Longhorns with a career-best 76.37 per round average.
In preparation, the Longhorn duo sat down with TexasSports.com to talk about the NCAA Championships, lucky charms and what makes them tick. One, Andersen, is on the final leg of her collegiate career, while the other, Best, is playing some of her best golf since coming to Texas two years ago. Here is their Q&A.
Thoughts about heading into the NCAA Championships...
Andersen: It feels great, because I wanted to end my college career on a good note, and I couldn't have imagined not playing at the National Championships as my last event. I had the NCAA's as a goal, so I'm very pumped and looking forward to playing.
Best: I am very excited about going to Ohio. This will be my first trip to the NCAA Championships so it will be a new experience for me. I just want to enjoy being there and have fun playing the Scarlet Course.
First thoughts when you knew you were going to advance to the NCAA Championships?
Andersen: I was really hoping we would advance as a team more than anything. I thought we definitely had a shot at it, and it was truthfully the only way I had actually planned to go - nothing less. I was certainly bummed that the rest of the girls weren't going to experience how awesome the National Championships really are. Now I won't get to harass them about me being the only senior one last time!
Best: I was very excited, but I was already upset because I knew we were not going as a team.
Is there one thing you will look to keep in your thoughts during the tournament, i.e. family, friends, teammates, coach's words of wisdom etc?
Andersen: There are several things I have to keep in mind, all starting with a strong and confident attitude. When I was younger, dad would write the words "JUEGA FELIZ" on the inside of the brim of my hat so I wouldn't forget that I have a lot to be happy about when I am playing. "PLAY HAPPY" is what it meant... and that is what our team tried to concentrate at regionals. It's been something that has helped me out greatly, helping me stay in my shoes, play one shot at a time, and simply enjoy myself out there. Although I am representing The University of Texas, and wear the Longhorn colors proudly, and always will... this time I am competing individually, which can either add or take away pressure... But, my goal is to keep a positive attitude, put my heart into every shot, and most importantly, enjoy my last collegiate tournament. Wow, that's almost weird to think about!!!
Best: I have one private thought in my routine that I have been using all semester (sorry can't reveal all my secrets!). I just want to keep that thought with me, stay relaxed and enjoy being at the NCAAs.
Do you have a special or lucky item in your bag; if so give a little explanation.
Andersen: Any of my teammates or coaches would probably laugh if they knew you asked that, because there are a little TOO many things! I am, and I do emphasize INCREDIBLY superstitious... whether it's the quarter I mark with always tails up or, always playing competition with an even numbered ball, (2 or 4), or because I tape my fingers and wrist exactly the same every time I have a club, or because I fiddle with my belt, collar, shirt, and just about everything and anything I am wearing... I do get a little fidgety! The one thing I always carry however is a little yellow duck, it's a little finger puppet. There is certainly history behind it, but no need to explain!
Best: Not really - I jut go out and play.
Have you ever been to Ohio State or played the Scarlet course?
Andersen: The Scarlet course is a great track. They've redone a few of the holes out there, which is why we didn't get to play on it during the NCAA Preview Tournament in the fall because they were still under construction. In fact, there is a lot of history and good karma on that course. It was the first tournament that we won as a team since I've played, and Janice (Olivencia) won it individually. And, when Heather Bowie [former UT NCAA Champion and LPGA Standout] played as an individual for Texas, she won the NCAA title here as well... let the good vibes roll!
Best: I played the Scarlet course my freshman year. It was my first college tournament, and I played well. We also won as a team and Janice (Olivencia) won individually. So, we have a good history on this course!
What is your ball marker, and is there any story behind it?
Andersen: I mark it with a quarter - no major history, just always tails up!
Best: I use a white ball mark with a Longhorn on it. I have been using the same one all semester, go it has become a little superstition.
Do you mark your ball in any special way, and if so how come and how do you mark it?
Andersen: Yep, the same every time! I put two lines with a sharpie along each side of the "PRO V1X" lettering. One line is red, one line in green... the Mexican flag colors! Then, I put two little dots on each side of the number.
Best: I mark my ball with three dots and each dot is color coded to the different Skittles bags! Skittles is my favorite candy!
Is there one thing you wish you could take with you to Columbus?
Andersen: I'd have to say my sister (Alexa). As she is one of the most meaningful people in my life, for her to watch my last tournament of my college career would mean the world to me. With her living in Guadalajara, Mexico and working and now married, its been rough for her to get to see me compete all that much, so I would have loved for her to be here for my last one!
Best: My WHOLE family and my new puppy Lili.
The furthest state north of Texas you have ever been?
Andersen: As far north as you can go... I've probably been there!
Best: Michigan, as I have family that lives up there.
The one movie on DVD you will take with you on the trip?
Andersen: I can count on Julia bringing "Walk the Line"... and although I usually don't take movies with me, I'd probably take some comedy, like "Anchorman," or, "Wedding Crashers." Nothing on the intense side, but rather something that would keep me smiling!
Best: "Walk the Line"; It is my favorite movie (about Johnny Cash).
Is there one book or something to read you will take with you on the trip?
Andersen: I have two. "Blink" which I started but never finished due to schoolwork overload, and probably Deepak Chopra's "Golf for Enlightenment." It has some great quotes in there that I love reading over every once in a while to keep a good attitude and focus while on the course!
Best: None, because we just got done with school (laughing).
If you could hear one song before you tee'd off what it would be?
Andersen: Probably something by Ben Harper. I would PLEAD that it's not one of Julia's country songs, because I don't know any of them, so I know the same ONE line would be repeating in my head over and over!
Best: Kenny Chesney's "Summertime," of course.
Funniest golf quote?
Andersen: "REALLY DEVAN?? REALLY??" (We've adopted that one lately!!) or, "Ninety percent of putts that are short, don't go in". ~ Yogi Berra.
Best: "Swing hard in case you hit it."
Quote you repeat most frequently?
Andersen: "DEAD... SOLID... AIM" or, recently, for my putting stroke, my coach has me thinking "Finish." It keeps me listening for the ball to drop rather than looking for it, so my stroke is tons more solid.
Best: Our team has several sayings and little words that we use. One of our most popular right now is the word "Really". We use it in just about every sentence and for any kind of situation.
Favorite golf quote?
Andersen: "Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated; it satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening - and it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented." -Arnold Palmer
Best: When I broke 80 for the first time as a sophomore in high school, I went to our high school football game that night. And when I got home my dad had written a note and left it on my pillow. It said "Good things come to those who work hard". Throughout my golf career I have kept that note with me and have tried to remember that success in golf comes with lots of hard work.