Golf Q&A: Arkansas’ Mason Overstreet
Thursday, January 25, 2018
Mason Overstreet's freshman year was hard to beat. He finished runner-up in the NCAA stoke play championship and was named a Ping All-America honorable mention. He continued to build off the momentum he built during his freshman spring season with his first collegiate win at the Jerry Pate Intercollegiate (Vestavia Hills, Ala.).
Overstreet closed the calendar year with a win against an elite collegiate field at The Patriot All-America Invitational. His 11-under-par score tied the tournament record as he cruised to a six-shot win over the field.
Mason recently took time out of his schedule to share his thoughts on 2017 and his recent Patriot All-America Invitational victory to close the year.
Your freshman year at Arkansas was by most accounts very successful both on the course and in the classroom. Take a few moments and share with us why you feel your transition from high school in rural Oklahoma to the University of Arkansas went so smoothly. Any funny or special moments that stick in your mind?
It has always been my dream to play Division I golf and have a chance to play at a professional level. Golf, since I was a little kid, has been my favorite thing to do. One story my parents told me is when I was little I would hit golf balls for hours up and down the distance of our trailer house, and then I would come inside with blisters on my hands and get them taped up and head right back out to do it all over again.
I have always tried to treat golf as a child does, and that is just with absolute joy. I think that is probably why I have been able to have what success I have had, and I have been extremely blessed with the opportunities I have.
Division I student-athletes in men's golf travel extensively and as a result miss a significant amount of class time. Your academic career is off to a good start as evident by being named to the First Year SEC Academic Honor Roll. How do you manage studying on the road, and what types of academic support does Arkansas provide?
It is not the easiest thing in the world to make yourself sit down and complete a quiz at 10 p.m. after a round of golf, but sometimes that is what we have to do. I think for me to study if I just sit down for an hour before we go to bed, I can usually get the studying done.
I also get a lot done on the plane to and from tournaments. Arkansas provides us all the opportunities we need for tutors, and all the professors are very lenient in their schedules and helping us out any way they can.
This past semester you won your first college tournament, the Jerry Pate Invitational and during the recent holiday break captured the Patriot All-America Invitational. Have you made any specific changes in your game, your mental approach, that you feel have contributed to the wins?
After my first semester of college, our coaches, Coach McMakin and Coach Lais, identified a few areas of my game that needed the most improvement, especially my driving and wedges. We worked extremely hard on those two areas of my game, and it has paid off.
A big key to my recent win at the Patriot All-America was how many fairways I hit throughout the tournament. You must get it in the fairway there, and I was able to do that all week.
There is an old sports saying: winning becomes contagious. Heading into the final round at the Patriot, you were chasing the leader by a single shot with three other players. Take us inside your mindset and approach to the final round. Coming down the stretch you obviously had it rolling on the way to six-shot victory. Were you aware of how you stood? What was your thought process, what were you focused on?
I knew that I was playing well enough heading into the final round to definitely have a chance come the end of the tournament. I had an outstanding warmup session on the range and was able to take that confidence to the tee.
It is actually a funny story, I cracked my 3-wood before the second round, so I had to borrow a demo from the clubhouse, and I never missed the fairway with it. It will always be a kind of funny memory I associate with this win.
I bogeyed the first hole but felt that I would be able to get that back because I thought back to my warmup and thoughts I had on the range. When I birdied the next four holes after 1, I knew that I had the lead at that point, and I had to keep the pedal down.
I was able to keep steady emotionally throughout the round and that made me able to make good swings and roll good putts coming down the stretch. I knew coming up 18 that I had a five-shot lead so I was able to enjoy that with my dad, who was caddying for me, and it was an awesome experience.
Was there any specific shot during the last round that stands out in your mind? Any special moment during the round which you will always remember?
I will never forget the 35-foot birdie putt I rolled in on 18. At that point, I knew I had five or six putts to win, and the way the crowd reacted and to finish off the way I did on 18, I will never forget that.
With that being said, two other shots in the round come to mind when I think about winning, and those are the two putts on 13 and 16. Those may not be the most glamorous shots, however, both of those were very difficult two-putts and helped keep my momentum up. I felt like after I was able to two-putt both of those, it really started to shut the door and not making a mistake at that stage in the final round was critical.
As you know, the Patriot is a unique amateur event that recognizes men and women in uniform for their sacrifices for their country. Each player carries a golf bag with the name of a fallen or severely wounded hero on it. Talk about your experience during the tournament week and most sticks in your mind other than the "W."
The whole experience of the week was unbelievable for all of the golfers. For us to be able to visit Luke Air Force Base and meet all the military personnel and the hospitality they showed us I will always remember.
Playing for a fallen soldier puts extra emphasis on the tournament, just knowing that you are representing someone who has given their life in order for us to have the opportunities we do is a huge honor.
Looking ahead to the spring semester, getting back to the NCAA Championship with your teammates is the number one goal. This year’s championship will be held in your home state of Oklahoma at Karsten Creek on the OSU campus. How will you try to balance your excitement for what is in front of you and the team and preparing mentally for the grind that awaits?
I think that focusing on getting better every day will help control us from looking too far into the future. Everyone’s goal is to be there in May and with it being in my home state would be extra special to be able to be there with our team.
The spring schedule is always more jam packed than the fall, and with all the tournaments it is important to get the quality practice time in between and it is definitely a grind. I believe the most important thing to do is to stay patient. Especially with golf, you will have your ups and downs and it is essential to keep a level head about yourself.
What other goals either academically or athletically do you have for the coming semester? What does your summer schedule look like?
For this spring semester, I would love to get a 4.0 GPA in the classroom. As for on the golf course, one of my goals is to get a win and continue to get better every day. All I can control is how hard I work and the amount of time put in will reflect on the course. If I am able to do that, then I believe that the results will come with the hard work.
As for my summer schedule, I will start with the Sunnehanna Amateur on June 13-16. Then I will go to the Web.com Air Capital Classic for winning the Patriot on June 21-24, then I will play maybe a few Oklahoma tournaments and then the Western Am in late July and try to qualify for the U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach.
Finally, assuming the Hogs are in Stillwater, do you expect the whole town of Kingfisher to turn out in Razorback red?
I have heard from almost everyone I know. They will be there! Even the people who know nothing about golf have said it would be awesome to come and watch.
It is amazing how supportive my home community is. I have people who text me after every tournament, whether good or bad, and just to know that they are always behind me is pretty cool. I believe that the Kingfisher Yellowjackets will be Hogs that week if we are able to make it!
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