Sunday, January 20, 2008

Freshman Steve Ziegler on just missing qualifying

I arrived at Stanford and was immediately thrown into the new experience of being a collegiate student-athlete. I still remember how I felt excited, scared, anxious, and curious I was to see how the schoolwork and the golf would be.
At our first practice I remember playing a bunker game with Daniel and Joseph where we had to land our ball on golf towels laid out at various distances. We had to hit each towel a certain number of times before we could leave. Daniel and Joseph both finished the drill when I was approximately half way done. Immediately I became frustrated I was behind, but I ground it out and finally finished the drill. I remarked on how close I was getting to the towels and how I was inches away from finishing the drill much sooner. Daniel turned to me with a straight face and said, “Well, get better Ziegler!” but he couldn’t hold his serious face for long and let out a big grin. We laughed and I brushed it off, but then again there was some merit to his statement.
The season progressed and I was routinely one spot on the wrong side of every cut. At practice, we’d primarily play games around the green where the worst three out of nine guys would receive extra biking with coach after our already killer workouts. The first couple of times I thought I played well just to find myself in the seventh spot. Similarly, in qualifying a lot of times I ended up one or two strokes away from filling out the team (the one that hurt the most was missing going to Isleworth by one shot and thus missing hanging with Tiger for a couple days). I guess Lim was right, I needed to get better.
I finally got my first chance to play in a tournament at PGA West in Palm Springs. I’ll never forget how nervous I was for the front nine of that tournament. I have played a lot of tournament golf before but I was tight as a drum; I couldn’t put a swing on the ball I made a quadruple-bogey on my eighth hole and played my first nine in nine over par! However, I pulled it together and finished four under on my second nine for a sensational 77. I played well the rest of the week and everything turned out to be ok.
Another memorable round was during qualifying to go to Cordevalle. I was tied with Daniel after two rounds so it came down to a heads-up match at the Peninsula Club. For one of the few rounds of the season, I got my putter working and ended up shooting 66 (Daniel shot 71) It was a gratifying feeling no doubt to pull off a good round when I needed it. In hindsight, as we were shaking hands I should have told Daniel that I was just listening to his advice.
Steve Ziegler

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