Q&A: NCAA individual champ Scott Langley
It’s been quite the summer so far for Illinois rising senior Scott Langley. He won the NCAA Championship as an individual at the Honors Course in June, then tied for low amateur honors at the U.S. Open a few weeks later. According to him, his phone won’t stop ringing. Langley, a four-time winner at Illinois, is looking forward to keeping his spectacular summer rolling.
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How has life changed since winning the NCAA Championship?
It’s a little more hectic. Life hasn’t changed too much. It has been hectic over the past month with a lot of media attention, which is great. A lot of people have been trying to get a hold of me, and my phone has been ringing crazy for about a month now.
Has your summer schedule changed with tournament invites?
I was in some amateur tournaments already, but what did change was I was exempt for the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Publinks. Winning NCAAs got me into those which didn’t change my schedule, but more affirmed it. Winning also got me in to the Nationwide Tour event in Columbus, Ohio. I wanted to be in the U.S. Am and Publinks, but now that I don’t have to qualify, it’s a great relief. I am playing in the Metropolitan Open in St. Louis (this week) which I have played and won the last two years. Later this summer I will also be in the Western Amateur.
You coach, Mike Small, won the PGA Professional National Championship on June 30 for the third time. How many times do you get asked, “Who is better: You or your coach?”
I get that question a lot. It’s a lot of fun with him and this team is really close. He’s a tremendous talent and very good. If we catch him on a bad day we let him know about it, but are very happy when he does play well whether its against us or pros. It’s a great challenge when you get to play him. It’s kind of funny because we call our team’s success The Mike Small Factor. We will be on a trip and someone will notice him and go say, “Hey you are Mike Small.” To us, he’s just a normal guy that’s part of the team and is a great coach and friend to have.
As the college season starts to wind down, do you start looking forward to playing individually as an amateur in the summer?
I like the summer months because I like to travel to a lot of great tournaments. Most of the best players are typically at those events and it’s a lot of fun to be around and compete against the best. I really enjoy team golf, but I really like playing in the summer. I always say you can improve each week against the best talent. That’s what makes you a better player. I enjoy tournaments every summer and gaining experience can only help me and my team for the next season. I love getting better and working hard to get better.
You helped Team USA win this summer’s Palmer Cup. What was that experience like?
It was an absolutely incredible week. Being over there with the guys and the team was a really neat environment. We all knew who each other was going into the event, but when you bond you really become good friends and get to know each other better. The course was amazing. The town was really cool to drive through and experience. Royal Portrush was one of the coolest places I have ever played. It is a different type of course than what I am used to, but it was cool to play shots I am not used to play here in the States.
What have you learned about match play tournaments? Do you prepare differently for those potentially week-long events?
I have learned you have to pace yourself. The week is long and especially if you play well you are going to play seven rounds of golf. I focus on pacing myself. Those tournaments are typically on tough courses that require precision with the driver. If you aren’t driving really well then you are going to be in trouble. Putting is the other important aspect, especially in match play. Putting is crucial to put the pressure on your opponent. I try to save the energy for the whole week and pace myself. You can tell when guys burn themselves out, but I try to keep cool and pace myself for the long week ahead.