Second stage of Q-School begins tomorrow. Game Under Repair recently sat down for a fireside chat, with cigars and a cold beverage in hand, to get a first-hand look at second stage from one participant.
Nah, no fireside chat, cigars, or cold beverages, but we do have a brief interview with Bryant Odom–an old friend who is preparing for second stage at Callaway Gardens this week. He took the time to answer a few questions about the upcoming tournament.
But, first, a little background.
Bryant Odom tied for low medalist (-14) at first stage in Florence, South Carolina. Odom is a bit of a Q-School veteran. This year marks his sixth visit to second stage, with one appearance at third stage in 2003. After missing third stage by two shots last year, Odom looks ready to move on in 2008.
Bryant was an All-American at the University of Georgia, where he played alongside Ryuji Imada, Justin Bolli, and Erik Compton. Since graduating, Odom has played on the Nationwide, Hooters, and Tarheel Tours, with some other professional events mixed in for good measure, including a win at this year’s Georgia Open.
Some career highlights include a win at the 2003 Alabama Classic (Hooters Tour), a T2 at the 2008 Firethorne Open (Tarheel Tour), and a T3 at the 2004 BMW Pro-Am (Nationwide Tour). Odom took some time off from touring in 2006 and 2007 while he worked as a Assistant Professional at Ocean Forest Golf Club in Sea Island, Georgia.
Now, on to the questions.
Game Under Repair: Your thoughts on first stage. You pretty much breezed through, tying for first at -14. You’ve got to feel pretty good going into this week.
Bryant Odom: I do take the confidence from first stage with me. It was nice to make it through without any drama. My ball striking was very solid the entire week and putting was above average. It all starts over for second stage. No one cares how well you played in first, or even where you played all year.
GUR: This is your sixth visit to second stage. Do you feel any added pressure to get through to third stage?
Odom: No added pressure. Just trying to prepare like it is any other tournament. I do spend more time at the practice facility and the gym than other weeks, but my mindset is to look at it like any other. The second stage is the hurdle that has given me the most problems in the past. I will take the entire year’s experiences with me and hopefully have another stress-free week.
GUR: Is playing at Q-School the most pressure you’ve felt? If not, when?
Odom: It certainly can be. If you are someone that watches the scores all week and keep “the number” in the back of your head, every shot seems to have a little more pressure. I do not look at the scores until I have finished the final day. The anxiety that surrounds the tournament is what is so annoying. Once I am out on the course finally hitting the shots my head isn’t so full of thoughts. The nerves will come and go throughout the week, but without them, it wouldn’t be Q-School.
GUR: What is plan B if you don’t make it through this year?
Odom: Ask me in a week. I’ll be playing somewhere next year.
GUR: Do you have aor bust timeline (i.e., if you don’t make the Tour by a certain age, then you might hang up the clubs)?
Odom: Not at this point. But I will not be someone who continues to play the mini tours just to make ends meet while I have a wonderful wife at home. Some people keep doing it with children at home; I don’t know how they do it!
GUR: What are one or two things you feel you need to focus on this week to play well?
Odom: As much as I want to hit buckets of balls and not leave the range until I am hitting it perfect, the short game can never be overlooked in preparing for a tournament. Even on your best ball-striking days, a green or two will be missed, or a par five will not be hit in two. Short putts aren’t so short in Q-School, and the greens are slick. Extra practice time on those short putts is priceless. A little extra cardio work in the gym can come in handy down the stretch as well.
GUR: Any strange or odd Q School stories you’ve witnessed?
Odom: 2007 first stage–morning of final round I am loading up the truck and I discover that my license plate is missing. I immediately think that one of my buddies playing in the stage has taken it as a prank–but I wasn’t laughing. It wasn’t a prank, someone stole it and I had to file a police report after the round so that I wouldn’t get a citation if pulled over. I played well that day, though!
What’s in the bag?
Driver: Titleist 907 D2 8.5º
3 Wood: TaylorMade V-Steel 14º
Hybrids: Adams 20º, 22º
Irons: Titleist AP2 4-PW
Wedges: Titleist Vokey 54º, 60º
Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron Custom Newport 2
Ball: Titleist ProV1X
Favorite swing thoughts?
Favorite swing thought is when I don’t have one! Slow takeaway is a reliable thought.
Best golfer you’ve played with?
Favorite courses you’ve played on?
Augusta National and TPC Sawgrass. Have never been to Scotland, but would love to visit.
Best golf tip you’ve ever received?
Grip pressure is overlooked by so many people! The lighter the pressure, the better. Find the lightest you can hold the club then tighten just enough to be comfortable. Under pressure your grip will tighten! When you feel the nervous pressure, walk slower and breathe deeper.
Any other thoughts?
I thank God everyday that I am blessed with the ability to play golf as a career!