Carolinas Golf Magazine

SPR 2019

golf, CGA, carolinas, junior, equipment, sport, PGA, LPGA, association, magazine

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time where I could maybe go out and play nine holes with an assistant or just put in a little practice. So from that perspective, my job allowed me to work on my game and earn a living at the same time. It was a pretty ideal setup for what I was trying to do. So, to start the year, I knew I was in a position to devote a good amount of time to it and I knew I'd be able to compete just about everywhere I went. JS: Is your game better now than it was when you decided to first turn professional? KO: Maybe not physically but I probably have improved the mechanics of my swing as most golfers do as time goes by. I would say as much as anything it's between the ears. Just maturing as a player and understanding what I do well and what I don't do so well. Just doing the best I can to play within myself has probably been the biggest difference between then and now. JS: What was the feeling when you found out that you'd be playing in the U.S. Open and the Masters? KO: I already knew how special Pebble Beach is having just played the U.S. Amateur there last summer. With the Masters, I didn't really know what they were going to do in terms of invitations this year. I was just crossing my fingers hoping they would extend an invitation to the Mid-Am champion again. It took probably three weeks to hear something from Augusta National and as soon as I received that invitation it was really exciting. It was a dream come true. JS: How are you preparing for Augusta? KO: As a competitor, you're allowed to go five times before the week of the tournament. My dad and I went down in October to check it out. We'd been to Augusta National multiple times before, but obviously never to play it. So, that was really a special time. I'll go down several more times over the next few weeks. In addition to that, my wife and I moved down to Florida so I had a little more consistent climate to practice in. JS: What are your plans after playing in your major exemptions? KO: It's a really good question and one that I wish I had a better answer. To call them bucket list opportunities is such an understatement. Playing the Masters is something every golfer dreams of doing and I'm not sure it's really hit me yet. My goal for the first half of the year is to really enjoy and take it all in. You never know if you're going to get the opportunity ever again. So, regarding the decision about what I do after this— whether to pursue a career on the golf course or find something else—I am waiting until after the U.S. Open to make decisions about that. And honestly, how I play in those events will have a lot to do with that decision. ■ 26 | | S P R I N G 2 0 1 9 The O'Connell's hoist the Robert T. Jones Jr. Memorial Trophy after Kevin's victory at the U.S. Mid-Amateur "Playing the Masters is something every golfer dreams of doing and I'm not sure it's really hit me yet." —Kevin O'Connell

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