Thursday, October 19, 2006
What it's like to play with the pros on the Champions Tour
Mia Kabasakalis, a Metropolitan Links Club member, junior program volunteer and student of Metro director of Instruction Rich Marik, competed this summer in the nationally-televised First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. Kabasakalis, a high school senior, recently committed to Harvard. She kindly agreed to an e-mail interview about her experience playing with the pros.
Q. What did you learn about your game by playing in the First Tee Open?
Playing in the First Tee Open was a wonderful experience. It gave me a great sense of what it would be like to play on tour, something that I am set on doing. I definitely noticed how incredible their short games were, they could get up and down from anywhere on the course! They don't hit it as far as the men on the PGA Tour, but their short games allow them to make up the shots, and I definitely came away with the realization of how importance putting and chipping is.
Q. How was the experience different from what you expected?
The setup was incredible, it was as if I was playing in a real tournament on tour, hospitality was amazing, the courses were in great condition, and it was always sort of a shock to see my name on the digital scoreboard every few holes.
Q. Tell me about your playing partner.
My playing partner was Mike Reid, known as "Radar" on tour because he hits it so straight. He's extremely talented, he actually won the Senior PGA in 2005! I learned a lot from watching his game, technique, types of shots, but most of all his attitude. He was never fazed when he hit a bad shot, or didn't get the break he wanted, and that was really great to see, and gave me a lot of inspiration.
Q. Describe your best shot of the tournament.
I had a few good holes actually. We played Pebble the first day, and I actually birdied two holes in a row, so my best hole, and my favorite was the fifth, a par 3. I was coming off of a great birdie on the fourth, and hit a great approach shot onto the green, right at the pin, and had a 12 footer for birdie, which I made!
Q. How did you meet the challenge of playing in such a high profile event, with stars and media everywhere?
I just had a lot of fun and approached it as I would any other tournament. I actually played with Cheyenne Woods during one of my practice rounds - she was so nice, a really great girl - and it was really impressive to see the way that she handled herself, since there were so many people watching her with so many expectations. The media and spectators just added to the overall feel of the tournament, which I found exciting and not too scary. I just tried to turn it into a positive.
(Photo courtesy of Junior Golf Association of Northern California)