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10 Questions with Senior Golfer Baxter Culler

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Baxter Culler looks to continue playing competitive golf and competing in mini-tour events this summer.

Baxter Culler looks to continue playing competitive golf and competing in mini-tour events this summer.

April 23, 2009

SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Baxter Culler recently finished his golfing career at USC Upstate with a seventh-place finish at the Atlantic Sun Conference Championships in Buies Creek, N.C. The senior had many strong finishes throughout the 2008-09 season, including a second-place finish at the Rutgers Invitational, an 11th-place finish at the Sea Trail Intercollegiate, 12th-place position in the Larry Nelson Collegiate Invitational, and a 16th-place finish at the Wexford Plantation Invitational among numerous other top-20 finishes.

Hailing from Hartsville, S.C., Culler has been an impact from the beginning, claiming two top-5 finishes and four top-10 efforts for the Spartans in his freshman season, finishing second on the team with a 76.5 stroke average. In his sophomore campaign, he finished in the top-5 on six occasions, winning two individual titles at the Kiawah Island Invitational and the Peach Belt Conference Championships. He was an All-America, All-Region and All-Conference selection for his efforts, finishing second in the entire league with a 73.0 stroke average.

His junior year was of similar stature, as he helped the Spartans make a solid transition into Division I play, turning in top-15 finishes at the Sea Trail Intercollegiate, Frank Landrey Invitational, BSC Invitational and Wofford Invitational. His top performance came at the BSC Invitational, where he claimed the fourth spot and helped the Spartans take the team title.

Culler also proved himself in the classroom, being named to the A-Sun All-Academic team last year. He recently sat down with Sarah Hurd of upstatespartans.com and discussed his playing career at Upstate and what he has in store for his future in golf.

After having just finished 7th at the A-Sun Conference Championships, how do you look back and reflect on your golfing career at Upstate?
Overall, it was a great experience. I have a really close group of friends now with all of my teammates. We had our ups and downs but the experience as a whole was very memorable. I got to travel to some great places with the program and experience some neat courses.

With a three-way tie going into sudden death in the (2009) Masters, who did you pick to win?
I picked Kenny Perry to win it all. He was leading the whole way playing solid golf and making birdies until the last two holes. He was in perfect position off the tee in the playoff hole. I thought he had it.

As part of the USC Upstate golf team, you got the opportunity to play in Hawaii this spring. What was that experience like?
Well, we spent a week in Kauai. The golf over there was great, but the whole experience was just amazing. We did a zip-line tour across and over the valleys which turned out to be really fun. We also explored many of the beaches. The experience made me think about wanting to move out there someday.

How do you handle a bad hole or round of golf and what's your mentality when moving on to the next hole or game?
I get frustrated with myself, but once I get my anger out, I'm usually able to let it go and focus on the next hole. The next hole is a new hole and I can't change what already happened, I can just focus on changing what will happen.

If you could play on any golf course in the world, which one would you choose?
I'd love to play on Augusta because it's always supposed to be in great shape and it has a great reputation and sign of prestige. I've also heard the golf is extremely different out in Europe in Ireland or Scotland. It would be fun to go there and create shots rather than just looking at a flag.

What were the most significant adjustments you had to make when transitioning to Division I your junior season?
In Division I, competition throughout the tournaments was much stronger whereas in Division II it was easier to see the better teams come out on top. I think most of us got comfortable playing in Division II because we were established and had played with many of the teams and knew a lot of the guys we were playing with. Once we transitioned into Division I, we became the "new" team, and had to get used to playing with teams and athletes who didn't know anything about us or expect anything from us.

In your opinion, what's the strongest part of your golf game?
Aside from my bad days, I'd like to say it's my consistency. I usually don't get in trouble that often or make a lot of big numbers because I keep the ball in play.

Can you describe your playing experience under head coach Todd Lawton?
I've really enjoyed playing for Coach Lawton. He's done a fantastic job of getting us into some strong, competitive tournaments and enabling us to see some of the better competition. I like his coaching style because he's not too strict, but we know we have to get the job done. He's done a great job with the program and I'm very happy with my career here.

What is your favorite course that you have had the opportunity to play on in your college career?
The Meadows up in Michigan where we played in Division II Nationals. It was in great shape, the greens and grass was perfect. I liked everything about it and I played pretty well on it. I think the whole experience there made that my favorite golf course.

Do you want to stay competitively involved with golf in the future?
Yes, I do. That's what I'm going to try to do this summer. I'd like to spend the majority of my free time practicing and preparing for some mini-tour events. There are also different levels of qualifying school in the winter in which I'd like to get involved in.

 
USC Upstate Men's Golf
 
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