Men's Golf Gets First Taste Of Duke University Golf Club

May 28, 2001

But for the humidity, one would be hard-pressed to tell the OregonState men's golf team had left the state of Oregon. The Beavers were greetedby a ceiling of rain clouds that let forth for the better part of themorning Monday - the team's first full day in Durham, N.C., where OSU willplay in its third-ever NCAA Championship beginning Wednesday with a 7 a.m.tee off at the Duke University Golf Club.

After leaving Gill Coliseum Sunday morning for the Eugene Airportat a bleary-eyed 4:15 to catch a cross-country flight to Durham via Denverand Chicago, the Beavers pulled into the well-appointed Washington Duke Innafter roughly 10 hours in cramped transit.

If anyone was drained from the trip, they had no worries when itcame to filling up, as the Beavs got a taste of southern culinary skills attheir finest at the 'North Carolina Barbecue' welcoming dinner for the 30teams and coaches and six individuals who qualified for the championship.

After a midmorning breakfast, the group of David Yarnes, MichaelJurgensen, Daren Grieg and David Williams teed it up on the first tee of theDuke University Golf Club for the first of two practice rounds, the secondof which will be played Tuesday at 8 a.m. Anthony Arvidson representedOregon State in the East-West best ball matches earlier in the morning,which the East won 6 1/2 - 2 1/2.

The Duke University Golf Course should come as a welcome respite forthe Beavers, as well as the other nine teams who faced the treacherous roughat Oregon State's Trysting Tree Golf Club during the NCAA West Regional. Theknee-deep rough at Trysting, which humbled and frustrated some of thenations best over the regional's three rounds, is nowhere to be found on theDuke course, where fairways seem large enough to land a small jet, and therough barely makes one think twice about 'taking the steering wheel off yourdriver', as OSU coach Mike Ketcham commented during the round. The courselacks nothing by way of scenery though, as it is a lush green, tree-linedcourse. The fact that the trees are well away from the fairway though mayactually allow the golfers to - gulp - enjoy the scenery during theirrounds.

The greens however, are another story. The players and teams at thetop of the leaderboard will be there due to accurate play with their irons -a facet of the game which will be crucial when placing the ball in aposition to score on the undulating greens. Perhaps on one or two greens isthere a flat putt, but the rest of the surfaces are as undulating as theNorth Carolina countryside. Monday's greens were softened and slowed a bitby recent rain, which in fact carried on through most of the morning andinto the first nine of OSU's noon-time practice round. Thunderstorms are inthe forecast for Friday, but the weather is predicted to hold off untilthen.

Yarnes, who along with Arvidson has played in all 13 tournaments forOSU this year, played consistently during his practice round, finding thefairways and sinking several putts. The path that led him to Oregon State isperhaps the most circuitous of any of the Oregon State golfers, arriving atage 26 after a four-year stint in the Air Force and two separate careers injunior college.

After cooling off from his practice round, Yarnes sat down for a Q &A session. Here's what the junior transfer had to say.

DID YOU JOIN THE SERVICE RIGHT OUT OF HIGH SCHOOL?
Yarnes - 'I did a year of college first at Pima Community College, and thenwent into the Air Force for four years afterward.'

WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO JOIN THE MILITARY?
'I did that because I didn't want to go to college right away, and I figuredthat would be a good thing to do in order to have some job security, makesome money, and to get college paid for afterward.'

ANY REASON FOR THE AIR FORCE IN PARTICULAR?
'Lifestyle. I heard the lifestyle was better in the Air Force.'

DID THAT PAN OUT LIKE YOU HOPED?
'It worked out. It was just like I though it would be.

WHAT WAS YOUR SPECIALTY?
'I was a communications operator - a radio operator on an airplane, whichwas an EC-135. I was stationed in Omaha, Nebraska all four years. Actually,the first year of it was all training, and the next three years I was atOffutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.'

IN YOUR TIME IN THE AIRFORCE, WHAT DID YOU PICK UP THAT CARRIED OVER TO LIFEIN GENERAL AND GOLF IN PARTICULAR?
'Well, as far as golf, I had played a year of junior college golf (prior tothe Air Force). Going into the military, I heard that I would have anopportunity to play golf. I played golf almost every other day it seemedlike, so my game just kept improving, even while I was in the Air Force. Itwasn't a problem coming back from the service and going to play golf incollege and continuing on. That time didn't hurt me, because of theexemptions you get for doing military service as far as eligibility. It waskind of a bonus.

'As far as the rest of my life, it helped because it gave me some time tofigure out what I wanted to do.'

IS THERE ANYTHING YOU MISS ABOUT THE MILITARY?
'The camaraderie, mostly. You make so many good friends there and you meetso many different people, you're all kind of like a big family. Whateversquadron you're in or whoever you're working with, those are the peopleyou're working with every single day. In the military, you have a lot oftime with all those people, so I kind of miss that a bit.'

DO YOU GET A SENSE OF THAT CAMARADERIE BEING ON THE GOLF TEAM?
'Yeah, I do. The only difference with that is that this isn't work for us.We don't really think of this as work. In the military, sometimes you don'treally want to be at work, but those people that you're working with pickyou up and make it all right. That's the only way it's different. (on thegolf team) Every day we go out, we're competing against each other, so it'sa little different in that sense, but I love the group of guys that we'vegot on this golf team.'

DOES IT GIVE YOU A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE ON THE GAME ALREADY HAVING HAD SOME'LIFE EXPERIENCE' WORKING IN THE MILITARY? DOES IT GIVE YOU A GREATERAPPRECIATION OF THE GAME?
'I wouldn't trade the situation I'm in. I didn't have a lot of opportunities(to play golf collegiately) right afterwards, so to me, this was the best wayto do it, to get where I am. I wasn't recruited by Oregon State out of highschool. The fact that I gave myself more time and improved got me ready toplay now at this level. I'm kind of behind everybody. Some of these kidsnow, they're ready to go turn pro after just a couple years of college. Istill need some time here to improve my game before I'm ready to do that.'

'As far as perspective on life and golf, just being older and having had alot of experiences with people older than myself - with the military andfriends and family and all that - you grow up a little bit and cool down. Ilike to have fun with these guys, but when I go home, I'm pretty quiet,basically. That's my personality.'

DOES THE FACT THAT YOU'RE 26 PUT YOU IN THE LEADERSHIP ROLE A LITTLE BIT?
'(Senior) Anthony (Arvidson) is our leader, and this is a mature group ofguys, for sure. But every now and then there are subtle differences betweena guy their age and a guy my age. They're still young, and I'm still young,but every now and again there are subtle differences. That's life.'

IS IT A BIT OF A BIG BROTHER ROLE?
'Yeah, it's just like that. And it's only because I've been around and seensome things and had some more time to grow up.'

AS FAR AS AT OREGON STATE, WHAT'S BEEN YOUR BEST EXPERIENCE HERE, WHETHERIT'S SCHOOL-RELATED OR WITH THE TEAM OR SOMETHING ELSE?
'I think the best experience so far has been the golf team, for sure, but Ireally enjoy the school as well. I'm totally happy. That's the best thingabout it, is I'm perfectly happy. I love school, I like the quarter system,and I love the weather. I like my coaches, the people, and I've made a lotof friends.'

WHAT IS THE STRONGEST PART OF YOUR GAME RIGHT NOW?
'My putting. It's always been my putting, and it's going to be my puttingfor a long time. I have to rely on my putting a bit, and when it comestournament time, that's probably when I putt the best. It seems likeeverybody on this golf team has a different part of their game that's prettygood. We've got Jurgy (sophomore Michael Jurgensen), who's got a great shortgame, and he's a great ballstriker too. Anthony is probably the best driverof the ball on the team, and I would consider myself probably the bestputter on the team. Everybody on the golf team is like that, where they'vegot something to contribute. For me it's the putter.'

WHAT PART OF YOUR GAME HAVE YOU IMPROVED THE MOST SINCE YOU CAME TO OSU?
'My strategy. That's something coach and I worked on starting at thebeginning of the year. He's been working on it pretty hard with all of us.When I come to a new golf course like this, it's much easier for me to set agame plan for how I'm going to play the course.'

HOW DO THINGS LOOK TO YOU AFTER TODAY'S PRACTICE ROUND?
'I think after today, the guys look pretty good. We've got another practiceround tomorrow, so we'll see. From what I saw out there today, there was apretty decent level of focus.

'The course might yield a few birdies - not too many, but it's going toyield some. I don't think anyone found it to be too difficult, so that's apositive. I don't think anybody's going to have any fears when they go andplay it. Some of the courses in the Pac-10 always have a hole or two thatjust doesn't suit your game too well, and out here, there aren't any holeslike that that I noticed. So we'll see. We're going to have to putt well. Ifwe putt well, we'll play pretty well, because I know we're going to behitting fairways and greens out here.'

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