Samantha Wagner heads to Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., to try and bounce back from a 22nd-place finish at the Rolex Tournament of Champions – but this time, she’ll have a little help from her friends.
Wagner’s destination: The Bridges at Rancho Santa Fe for the 2013 Wyndham Cup, a yearly team match-play event between the top 10 players from east of the Mississippi River and the 10 best from the western portion of the country.
As a participant last year, Wagner helped lead the East to a 25-25 tie, which was good enough for the team to keep the cup for the second straight year.
Wagner, a University of Florida verbal commit and the No. 17 player in the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Girls Rankings, is ready for some more match-play madness this year.
Here are five questions with the class of 2015 golfer:
• How do you feel about your game after the Rolex and heading straight into another big tournament?
“I played all right. I struggled on the greens a little bit, but I was hitting the ball really well and made swing adjustments I felt good about (my game) during the round. I feel really good about my game going into the Wyndham Cup.”
• Do you have a different approach heading into a tournament with a different format than a typical stroke play event?
“It’s a little bit different because it’s a team tournament and sometimes you have to depend on a partner. I like match play a lot and I’m a lot more competitive in it. I do get a little bit different on the course when it’s match play, which is good. I like going after pins and being aggressive, so I do that in match play.”
• What are the interactions like when you play with a partner? What is the overall feel of the tournament?
“Last year, when I played with a boy it was different. We didn’t know each other that well, didn’t know each other’s game, so it was harder. But when I’m playing with a girl on my team, I know most of the girls really well. Sierra [Brooks] and I played together last year in alternate shot, and we actually have really similar games. It was very easy for us in alternate shot because we’d be in the exact same place we’d play from in our own round.
“There is a ton of camaraderie. It was so fun last year to have this big team that supports each other no matter what. I just loved it last year; it would be really hard to beat last year.”
• What is your favorite memory from the 2012 Wyndham Cup?
“The moment that really sticks out is when Cody Proveaux made his par putt on the last hole to tie his match and seal it for us. On my side, when Sierra Brooks and I played together, we both struggled a little bit, but I was making a lot of putts, which helped us win. We worked really well together, so that was a great part from last year.”
• What Wyndham Cup advice would you give a first-time player that you learned from playing last year?
“Have fun. Last year was an amazing experience; having fun out there definitely made me play better. With teammates supporting each other, cheering, fist pumping and high-fiving, that’s what made it awesome and made us all play better.”