O’Bryan looks to provide youthful boost to UW golf

first_imgWisconsin men’s golf standout Thomas O’Bryan has the classic golf story. He first picked up a club at the age of five and went out with his father and grandfather to learn the game.His father, who played at Tennessee, has always been there for him.“My grandpa, my dad and I have always played together, and those are some of my best memories, playing with those two guys,” O’Bryan said.He credits his dad for helping him not only learn the game, but also helping him with many of the decisions he has made involving golf.O’Bryan started playing competitively around the age of 10 and went on to a great high school career. He was the first four-year golf letter winner at his high school and a three-time team MVP.He grabbed All-Conference honors in 2010, and his high school career culminated with winning the 2011 Illinois State Class 3A Boy’s State Golf Individual Championship in a two-hole playoff against his friend Nick Robles, who now plays at Illinois.“It was so nerve-wracking, but for some reason I had this unusual calmness about me the whole time,” O’Bryan said.Now a sophomore at UW, he has a strong ability to keep things in perspective to deal with the pressure. After losing a friend before his final high school season, the nerves before a big tournament were no longer so daunting.“Every time I felt a little nervous, I was thinking about how I was going to do it for him,” he said. “He was there walking around with me, so I owe a lot to him.”O’Bryan had offers to play golf at other colleges, but he ultimately chose Wisconsin, allured by the beauty and vibe of the campus. And once he checked out the facilities and met head coach Michael Burcin and assistant coach Bryant Odom, it was an easy choice.At UW, O’Bryan found success almost immediately. As a freshman last year, he led the Badgers in scoring in two tournaments.“As far as buying in to what we want to do, Thomas has been spectacular,” Burcin said. “The difference in his game from a year ago … you can’t imagine how much different it was.”But it’s not all about scorecards with O’Bryan, who says he wants to play the game the right way and last year won the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award.Each team nominates a player from their team to be chosen for the award. Since the nomination is made by the players and coaches, O’Bryan said he was surprised he received it as a freshman. But it also showed his coach and teammates took notice of how he carried himself.“I just try to go out there and … be as respectful as possible at every tournament,” O’Bryan said. “I think any one of the guys on the team could have had it just because we have such a great group of guys. I was really honored to be representing the team.”“He is just a great guy, a good human being,” teammate and fifth-year senior Chris Meyer said. “He is a great teammate, a great guy to be around. He is one of those guys that you want to see make it, and cheer for.”The Badgers’ season gets underway this Saturday at Wolf Run Golf Club in Zionsville, Ind., and according to O’Bryan, the team’s goals are clear. Foremost among those goals is making the NCAA regionals, and O’Bryan says “anything can happen” if they reach that stage.While the Aurora, Ill., native still has two years of eligibility left after this season, there are still times when he can’t help but think about life after college.“One of my teammates, Chris Meyer, is going to turn pro after this year, and just listening to the way he’s talking about it just gets me really excited,” O’Bryan said. “Maybe one day I can do that too.”And Meyer certainly believes in him.“He has a lot of potential more than anything, and he is a young guy and has a good work ethic and that’s always a good combination,” Meyer, who had the third-lowest stroke average on the team last season, said. “He has a good amount of time to get ready [for the pros], and I think it will be a good move for him as long as he keeps working hard, which I’m sure he will.”The future looks bright for O’Bryan, but he is quick to share the credit – particularly with his older, more experienced teammates who extended a guiding hand in his first year playing for Wisconsin.“[The older players] really took me under their wing, and I don’t think I could have done any of this without them,” he said.last_img read more