MacKenzie Looks to Recapture Winning Feeling
April 8, 2005
Corvallis - Cameron MacKenzie knows the feeling when everything in golf is going just right.
The Oregon State senior felt it in 2003 at the Pacific-10 Conference Championships, where he led after two rounds before settling for a sixth-place finish.
He felt it again during the summer of 2004, when he reached the finals of the Oregon Amateur, a match-play tournament.
But unfortunately, those feelings have been all too rare for MacKenzie, who has spent more time off the course healing from injuries than he has posting low scores on it. As he heads into his final few collegiate tournaments, a now-healthy MacKenzie hopes to rediscover the magic, and lead the Beavers to postseason success.
After missing the entire fall season, MacKenzie has played in all five spring tournaments and has a career-best 73.77 stroke average.
'I feel as though I've played all right, but I haven't gotten to where I want to be yet,' said MacKenzie, who hails from Vancouver, British Columbia. 'I'm still scraping off the rust. I hope now that I'm healthy I'll get in the swing of things and really start to improve. I'd say I'm as close to 100 percent as I've ever been all through college.'
MacKenzie came to OSU to play for Coach Brian Watts and to hopefully parlay a successful collegiate career into a spot on the professional tour. But when he arrived in Corvallis, he tried to play his freshman year in 2000-01 despite having sore wrists. He took part in seven tournaments, posting a stroke average of 76.86. The wrists continued to bother him, and he redshirted the 2001-02 school year.
He missed the fall season in 2002-03, but finally recovered to play in four tournaments in the spring, posting a 75.84 average. That included the best round of his OSU career, a 69 in the first round of the Pac-10 Championships.
Not long after, one of his thumbs started to bother him. He sat out the summer and fall again, then returned in the spring of the 2003-04 school year. Battling the pain, he played in seven tournaments with an average of 75.50.
The thumb eventually stopped hurting, but the pain transferred to his elbow. He missed last fall, but rejoined the Beavers' lineup this spring.
'I feel as though I've been injured the whole time that I've been here,' he said. 'My scores reflect that. I haven't really been able to improve at the rate I would have liked.'
No matter what happens, he will have at least a couple of positive experiences to look back on.
'At the 2003 Pac-10 Championships, it was a time when I was feeling really healthy again,' MacKenzie said. 'I finally went down and played a good tournament. The biggest thing was being in the mix with all of the best players, most of whom are playing professional golf right now. Unfortunately, I didn't play as well down the stretch, but that's something I will absolutely draw on forever, as far as how to handle yourself in that situation. Remembering that feeling is why I have worked so hard.'
The Oregon Amateur required MacKenzie to win five matches before reaching a 36-hole championship match.
'At the Oregon Amateur, I was battling the elbow problem but I struck a good rhythm,' he said. 'It was a long week, but I really caught fire. In the final match, I played really poorly in the morning. I was maybe seven down with 10 holes to play, but I went on a tear. That same feeling came back. I hit the ball where I wanted it to go, and tied the match up after the 17th hole.'
Unfortunately, MacKenzie's opponent won the tournament in a playoff.
MacKenzie, a business major with a music minor, hopes now that his health worries are over so that he can still realize his dream of playing professionally after he graduates in June.
'The bottom line in this sport is that if you don't put in the time, and get the experience, you can't get to the next level,' he said. 'That's why the injuries have been frustrating. My desire to play well is still there. The biggest thing is if you've got passion and desire and get the experience, good results will come. But if you do it sparsely, you can't get the consistency. Now I'm feeling good and if I'm playing and practicing constantly, and have the right mental frame, eventually some of those days are going to come where it's a 66 and not a 74.'