Men's Golf |
June 2, 2008
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By JOSH KATZOWITZ
Doug Martin is just waiting for Alberto Fernandez to break out on the golf course. The University of Cincinnati men's golf coach is waiting for Fernandez to explode for lower scores. He's waiting for Fernandez to take the Bearcats program to a higher level.
Fernandez waits as well.
"Next year is the time when it should happen," said Fernandez, a junior from Gijorn, Spain. "Next year should be the explosion for me."
Martin thinks that as well.
"I think he has the ability to be a very dominant player at the level where we are as a program," Martin said. "His play really would raise our program to another level if he plays to the level that he's capable of. If he plays below, then we're just a nice golf team. If he plays above his ability, we all of a sudden become a very good team."
Sounds like Martin is putting some pressure on his golfer.
"I try to put a lot of pressure on the guys anyway, so when we get into competition as the season progresses, they become more and more accustomed to the pressure of playing high-level competitive golf," Martin said. "You have to be able to respond. He's done some good things. But the bar needs to be raised, and he has to have higher expectations for himself."
The biggest aspect of his game he needs to improve, Martin and Fernandez say, is his confidence. Simply put, Fernandez doesn't play with enough of it. And on the golf course, a lack of confidence can be fatal.
"The biggest thing we talk about is why you practice," Martin said. "You practice to gain confidence. You can't be just going through the motions. You have to be practicing what you're trying to do when you play. If you practice with success, there's no reason you can't play with success. A lot of it is a mindset. We talk about when you're looking at a shot, picture the shot you want to hit. Don't be afraid of the shot. If there's an out-of-bounds or water, picture the shot and hit it. If you picture a bad shot, you're probably not going to hit the shot you want."
Fernandez continues to struggle with that this year. He's been overshadowed for much of the season by freshman Joe Kastelic, and Fernandez hasn't been pleased with his swing lately.
But still, he remains positive, and he credits Martin for assisting him.
"He's really helped me a lot with my confidence," Fernandez said. "I started playing golf late. I started when I was 12 or 13. I was always around good players, but I never was that great. Now, he's really helped me."
The fact he didn't start playing golf until he was nearly a teenager might be a reason he has a tough time corralling his confidence.
"If I had started earlier, I would be more confident," the 20-year-old Fernandez said. "But there are a lot of players that whenever they start late, they get confident later (in their career). When you're 23 of 24, that's when you really know what you're doing. If you start playing when you're six, you might peak when you're 18. If they peak when they're 18, that's a bad moment to peak."
Perhaps one reason he's not quite so confident might have to do with the journey he made to travel here. Fernandez's voyage from Spain as a freshman had him feeling a little lonely as he tried to live up to the expectations an international player brings to the collegiate golf scene.
Still, three years later, Martin needs more from Fernandez.
"Obviously, Alberto is a very, very talented young man," Martin said. "Any time you come from a foreign country, there's a time of adjustment and fitting in. He's dealt with that for his first two years and he is getting more and more confident. He's improved, definitely improved so much from last year. I'm just waiting for him to explode and take off. I know sometimes he's disappointed with some of his performances, but he's been a mainstay. I expect good things from him."