May 3, 2002
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Terrapin freshman Bobby MacWhinnie has adjusted well to his first season of collegiate competition. After a fall season that included a 75.10 stroke average and a top-10 individual finish at the Terps' Temple Invitational victory, MacWhinnie has come into his own in the spring as one of the Terps' most consistent performers in a NCAA Championship regional appearance season.
The Pittsburgh, Pa. native recorded Maryland's low individual score in two spring tournaments and has three top-10 finishes in the spring, including a tie for third at the Colonial Intercollegiate in Williamsburg, Va. In his first ACC Championship, held April 19-21 at the Old North State Club, MacWhinnie racked up 13 birdies en route to a 23rd-place finish against the some of the best players in the country. And in his last tournament, the Rutherford Intercollegiate held April 27-28 at Penn State's Blue Course, MacWhinnie returned to the site of his 2000 Pennsylvania High School Championship title by recording 12 birdies on the way to a ninth-place result.
After shaving more than 1.5 strokes off his fall average by finishing the spring regular season with the Terps' second-best mark at 73.56, MacWhinnie discussed the evolution of his first collegiate season as well as his and the Terps' spring success.
Question: After tough back-to-back tournaments to open the spring (15th place at the Birkdale Collegiate and 11th at the Cleveland Collegiate Championship), how do you feel about the team's turnaround since then?
Bobby MacWhinnie: I think in the beginning, we were a little rusty coming back from the winter. But then we were able to turn it around slowly. We got back in the swing of things, but it was tough at first with back-to-back tournaments to start the season. But I think that once we got that under our belts and realized that we needed to step it up again and get ready to go, we were able to turn it around. It took us awhile - we weren't expecting that, honestly - but I think it was good that it happened, because we realized that we needed to work a little harder and get back to where we were in the fall.
Q: At your fourth spring tournament, the Liberty Classic, the weather was awful, the course layout was difficult and the scores were high, but the team was able to come away with a victory despite the difficult conditions. Would you consider Liberty the turning point of the spring?
A: The scores were high and we didn't shoot great numbers - Corey [Brigham] did the last day [with a 66], but other than that, we didn't have very many great numbers. I think that just being able to stick with it and the fact that we won gave us the confidence of just being able to win again.
Q: The Terps couldn't catch up to Penn State at the Rutherford Intercollegiate, but could you talk about the experience of returning to the Penn State Blue Course, site of your victory at the 2000 Pennsylvania High School Championship?
A: I didn't play as well as I hoped to because I'm obviously familiar with the course and I like it a lot up there. It's tough to compete against Penn State up there, especially when they play the course every day. We played well, but Penn State played great. But it was good to see us play well as a team again, instead of just a couple good scores. Everyone played well and everyone had a score that counted so it was good to see that we're turning that around at the right time.
Q: You recorded 12 birdies at the Rutherford Intercollegiate and 13 at the ACC Championship. This is your first time playing in these tournaments and you're putting up these scores as a freshman - how do you see this early success helping your confidence in the future?
A: The birdie situation is a very positive thing. I'm shooting numbers that are good - but not as good as they can be - but the birdies are a good sign. When I start eliminating the little mistakes and the mental errors, those birdies are going to turn what was a 69 into something really low. The birdies are a good sign for the future when I start to eliminate some of those rookie mistakes and mental errors.
Q: You were placed right into the lineup in your first semester, and now in your second, you're often recording the Terps' first and second scores. Could you talk about the experiences of your freshman season?
A: I think the fall was difficult in that I was getting used to the concept of college golf. It's so much different than any other type of golf that I've been playing - it's different from junior golf and summer tournaments back in high school. So just getting used to it was difficult, and I didn't really shoot the numbers I was hoping to - I averaged 75, which isn't terrible but definitely not what I was hoping for. I think that once I got used to it, and kept working hard in the winter, I was able to turn it around in the spring. Now I have confidence and things seem to be going in the right direction.
Q: What was that first semester like, trying to adjust to school and the demands of the fall schedule?
A: It was an exciting start, a big change for me. There's a lot more responsibility here. It was difficult in the beginning trying to balance everything with school work, being on your own, practicing and road trips. It was a good start, I think. I didn't play as well as I'd liked to, but overall, I think it was a good start, a good base for the next four years.
Q: How do you see your role on the team having evolved throughout the year?
A: I think that at the beginning of the season, I was the fifth man and a guy that needed to play consistent and be there in case other players weren't playing well and my score would be the one that we fall back on. But I think now that I'm playing a lot better than I was in the fall and my rounds are counting more, so that confidence is also helping out the other guys. They know that I'm playing better so that there's not as much pressure on everybody else as it would have been in the fall.