April 15, 2010
SPARTANBURG, S.C. -
Senior Michael Lawrence and the rest of the USC Upstate men's golf team will kick off the 2010 A-Sun Championships on Monday morning at The Legends Course at Chateau Elan in Braselton, Ga.
The Spartans competed in the Coca-Cola/Wofford Invitational on Monday and Tuesday. Lawrence posted a total of 148 in the two rounds on Monday and followed that up with a 72 in Tuesday's final round. The Spartans rallied to finish in second-place at the event and finished a stroke ahead of cross-town rival Wofford.
Lawrence has appeared in eight different tournaments this year and has played 25 rounds in 2009-10. The Easley, S.C., native owns a season stroke average of 75.5. His low round of the year is 68 and he has posted one top-10 finish. For his career, Lawrence owns a stroke average of 75.3 and has recorded three top-five finishes and nine top-10 finishes.
Lawrence recently sat down with Alex Edwards of upstatespartans.com to discuss the upcoming A-Sun Championships as well as his time in Spartanburg.
What are your individual goals at the A-Sun Championships and what are the expectations of the team?
Obviously, from an individual standpoint, I would like to win. This has been an up and down year for me, but I feel that my game is coming along and I think I am peaking at the right time. I also want to earn a spot on the all-conference team, I believe that goes to the top-five individual finishers. Last year, I finished eighth, so I was very close to making the all-conference team and I feel I have a great chance this year. As far as the team goes, I would love for us to get a win. I feel that ETSU and North Florida are the toughest teams in our conference, but our team is playing great right now. We have a very strong five and everyone feels that we can rely on others to help carry us. We just have to go out there and have a strong outing in the first two rounds and see where we stand heading into that final day. From that point we will see if we can make something happen and come back to Spartanburg as conference champions.
When did you first start playing golf and what got you interested in the sport?
I probably first started playing the game when I was around 10 years old, before that I played soccer. My dad was a professional golfer and I used to ride with him out to The Cliffs in Traveler's Rest where he was the head golf professional. I would go out and practice with him in the mornings and that's pretty much how I got into the game. I just followed in his footsteps and just wanted to be like him.
Since you arrived at Upstate what has been the biggest change you have made to your game? Why?
I would probably say that over the course of my career I have become more consistent. When I first arrived on campus, I was more of a scrambler and was all over the place. Comparing my game as a senior to my time as a freshman, I am more consistent off the tees and my iron play has improved as well. I also don't take as many risks as I used to, so that has helped me become consistent.
What has been your favorite golf course that you have played during your time at Upstate?
We have been to a lot of great places during my time here. But I have to go with the Division II national championship my freshman year. The event took place at The Meadows in Allendale, Mich. and was hosted by Grand Valley State University. The shape of that golf course was unbelievable. The greens were pure, the rough was amazing and the entire course was manicured to perfection.
What is the biggest difference between the high school and collegiate levels?
I would have to say the level of competition is the biggest difference between the two levels. I played just down the road at Easley HS and we had a really good team there. We won the state championship my senior year, but we would blow a lot of teams out that we played. Here at Upstate, Coach Lawton has entered us in a lot of good tournaments and we have to go out and shoot par or better to have a chance to win.
What do you consider as the strongest part of your game? Why?
The strongest part of my game is probably my ability to recover. As I mentioned earlier I was a scrambler when I arrived on campus and I still find myself scrambling every now and again. Since I have had to recover a lot of shots over the course of my career, my ability to recover would be the strongest part of my game.
What has been your most memorable moment during your time here? Why?
That is a tough question because there have been a lot of good ones during my time here. I would have to go back to the national championship during our final season of Division II play. Josh Gallman and I are the only two players that are still on the team from that year. We were up there for about two weeks and it was a great experience. There were leader boards all over the place, we don't play in many tournaments that have those and just coming down the final stretch I was just in awe. Even though we finished in second and lost by just one stroke, it was definitely one of the best experiences of my life and I don't know if I will be able to experience something like that again.
What advice would you give to a younger player that desired to play collegiately?
I would tell them that you just need to focus on having fun. If you put too much pressure on yourself you likely will get burned out on the game very quickly. Also, don't worry about going to this school or that school, just focus on picking the school where you feel you will be able to have the most fun while you are out on the course.
Who is your favorite professional golfer? Why?
I would have to go with Tiger Woods. In my opinion he is probably one of the best players that will ever play the game. I know that he has faced a lot of controversy over the last few months, but his abilities are just phenomenal. To do what he does on a regular basis is simply amazing.
If you could play one round on any course in the world, where would you choose and why?
That is a tough choice, but it comes down to Augusta National and the Links at St. Andrew's in Scotland. I would have to go with Augusta, simply because it's Augusta National and it is where the Master's is held every year. That is a course that everyone dreams of playing on and it is such an unbelievable course. So many golfing legends have played on that course and to play on the same course as some of the greats would be an amazing experience for me.