UI golf coach Mike Small didn’t make the cut at the PGA Championship, following up his first-round 76 with another 76 on Friday. He talked about it afterward:
Q. This is one of those times where you think that you’re fresh coming in, and you’re ready to go, and this course is a great, tough golf course?
MIKE SMALL: It’s fair. It’s a hard golf course but it’s fair. I struggled all week in the practice rounds. It’s fun to be here and learn and to watch, which has been important for us. But yeah, I wish I had brought a little more ammunition with me.
Q. This golf course, it’s not a mystery, you just have to hit the fairways.
SMALL: Yeah, you have to hit the fairways and I had trouble hitting it inside the ropes, let alone the fairways. This is a fair golf course. I’ve played a number of these things, and this is one of the fairest I’ve seen. Rain came in and changed things around, it would be fun to play it firm and fast. The course is great, but I just brought nothing to the table all week. When I came here on Monday, I tried to find it all day, but nothing.
Q. What do you take away?
SMALL: I learned. I watched the younger players I played with two guys probably half my age this week. You watch how they play and you watch the other guys. I take away from this that I have to be more honest with myself before I come to these things. This is my third event since November, so it’s not like I’ve prepared coming in. I’m not doing myself a service doing that. I didn’t really embarrass myself, but I did, the way I played. I hit it in the junk all week, moving crowds and stuff. It was frustrating.
Q. How can you change it? Will you play more events in the future before this?
SMALL: Yeah, I don’t know. I’ve just got to figure things out. Every shot is a struggle. It’s been that way for a while, too. I haven’t played that well for a while. But you know, I just need to get better. I need to get better and I need some more time at it. I need to figure some things out, but it will be better for myself. It will give myself more of I’ll be doing myself a better service. No excuses, I just brought nothing with me. I was trying to find it when I got here, and actually, you can’t do that.
So that’s the way it is, my job has expanded and I’m getting a lot of requests and calls and things, a lot of speaking and a lot of things that I have to do and recruiting obviously. That’s the way it is. But again, other years, that one year, I played five times all year and I made the cut at the PGA. I made the cut in the Western and won the national club pro. I played five times that year. So the playing, the limit thing is not the reason; bad play is. I need to figure it out.
Q. Just the fact that you have so many ties to this championship, obviously Luke Guthrie it’s a proud thing for the University of Illinois?
SMALL: It is. The U.S. Open, we had the second most alums playing, four. I don’t know what it is this week but it’s neat. It’s fun to be part of it. Wish I could have held up my part of the bargain and played a little better, but hope those guys play well.
Q. Like to ask you about the PGA Cup team, and a chance to play again and be part of a team atmosphere for your country over there, and a new place, a new event.
SMALL: It is for your country and it is playing for your teammates, but I’m on the other side of a fence, I’m a player now for a captain and a coach, so I get to see the other side. Helps my coaching, it really does, to see how they talk to us, the team atmosphere, the pressure you feel, the preparation. This is my fifth one of these, so it’s really helped my coaching and I’m looking forward to that experience. So playing for your country is a neat deal.
Q. Over there, it’s sometimes an equalizer in the conditions; they have played that
golf course for their National Championship, they have ten rookies and that golf
course has hosted Senior and European Tour events?
SMALL: It’s going to be great, a great venue. They always have good players. We are not playing that well this week it looks like a lot of us. We’ll have to get our games straight before we go over there or we’ll get whipped.