Buff Blitz: Dominique Pytlewski
Sophomore Dominique Pytlewski and her CU women's golf teammates just wrapped up the 2008 season with an 11th place finish at the Big 12 Championships. Pytlewski finished tied for 38th place at the event capping off a solid season that saw three Top 5 and Top 10 finishes including medalist honors at Texas Tech's McHaney/Morehead Invitational. She is just the third Colorado women's golfer to capture a first place finish. As she gears for finals, and a summer full of tournaments, Pytlewski took time out to visit with CUBuffs.com:
AM: Do you have any thoughts on the season from a team standpoint?
DP: I think we've had some good things happen and some disappointments. We had three pretty good tournaments to start the season, including a win, but just haven't kept that same momentum going. And between me getting sick, Julie's back problem, and Christine coming back from a broken wrist, we had to overcome a lot of adversity this spring. I think everyone wants to finish the season strong and come back next season to a fresh start.
AM: Individually, your sophomore year has been quite impressive, how does it compare to the success you saw your freshman year?
DP: Coming in as a freshman I expected a lot of myself, and so I have learned to loosen up a bit since last year. I look at my freshman year as a good transition period in which I learned how to live as a student-athlete, constantly traveling and catching up with missed classes. I think I have mastered that, and have been able to have a pretty good focus on what I need to do to be successful now.
AM: Last season saw you place in the top 10 individually once. This season, you have three top-5 and five top-10 finishes to your name. What attributes might you consider to be the driving forces in such consistently solid play?
DP: I think I got off to a good start coming of a lot of hard work in the summer. I spent countless hours just working on my swing, and most importantly my putting. Putting was never my strength, but I turned that around last summer by doing several drills each day. I have become a better ball striker, but it's my putting that's made the difference.
AM: What was it like to place first as a team in front of a hometown crowd, winning the CU Heather Farr Memorial Invitational in Broomfield?
DP: It meant more for us than any other tournament because it's a tournament that means a lot to Coach Kelly, as it is in memory of her good friend Heather Farr. As far as golf goes, we saw what happens when we get four or five of us playing well rather than just two or three, and it opened our eyes to what we can accomplish.
AM: You followed up the team win in Broomfield with an individual first place performance at the Texas Tech Invitational. Can you describe your emotions after the victory?
DP: Well it kind of felt like a battle during the round to be honest. I felt in control until the 15th hole when the girl who came in second cut my lead from three to one by chipping in for eagle. So once the round was over and I found out I won I was pretty relieved and happy that I pulled it off after being a little disappointed with coming in second the week before.
AM: Besides your home course, is there any other venue that you consider your favorite place to play?
DP: We were fortunate to play a lot of very nice courses this spring. The course in Oregon and Stanford were great courses. We're actually at Big 12s right now, and this course is a top rated course in the US. I don't have a favorite but I do favor West Coast style courses like we saw in Oregon, that have lush grass, thick rough, and greens that hold approach shots well.
AM: Regarding your time playing for the Canadian Junior National team ? how much did that experience help in your success at CU?
DP: The National team was a great experience ? the best part was playing alongside such talented teammates. As far as a learning experience, I got to play in Ireland which is nothing like playing in North America. Between the bunkers, intense wind, and fairways that roll forever, it's a lot to adapt to. It made me think about how to adapt to different styles of golf courses in preparation for heading to different locations to play.
AM: What kind of culture shock has it been moving to Boulder from Vancouver, British Columbia?
DP: It's been an easy transition surprisingly! Boulder is such a beautiful place to live. As we travel to different locations I realize just how lucky we are to go to school at a campus like ours. I miss home from time to time, but between golf and school I'm kept pretty busy!
AM: You aren't the only British Columbia native, as fellow teammate Julie Kim also calls B.C. home. Having some like Julie around must be nice?
DP: Definitely. Julie is one of my favorite people and a great teammate. It's been lots of fun practicing and playing with her over the last five years or so. We all really miss having her at the tournaments this spring. She's out with back problems right now, but we're hoping she has a speedy recovery.
AM: Has this season been a little easier for you than your freshman season? Trying to balance golf with a college life can be trying for student/athletes.
DP: It has been easier because it's become second nature to me now. I now know how to pick classes accordingly, and have learned how to use the assistance that's available to us, like tutors and academic advisors.
AM: How has head coach Anne Kelly helped you improve as an individual during your time in Boulder?
DP: Between coach and (assistant coach) Brent (Franklin) we have a good system here. Brent's helped me significantly to manage my game and work on my swing. Coach has a great short game ? it's painful playing a putting contest against her, she's pretty good.
AM: With a season that spans the entire school year and beyond (September ? May), what do you do, either as an individual or as a team, to maintain your mental dexterity?
DP: We talk a lot as a team about how to think on and off the course. Sometimes we don't have answers for why things went right or wrong, and that is what can be frustrating as a player. Our coaches keep us pretty cool headed. It helps to know that you don't need to be perfect to play good golf.
AM: You were recently named to the 2008 Academic All-Big 12 Women's Golf team. Being it's your first selection, you must be very excited?
DP: It's definitely an honor because it means I'm doing something right! My mom has always told me school comes first, then golf, and it's hard to remember that sometimes. It's nice to have a reminder from time to time that as a student-athletes our grades are important too!
AM: Do you have any plans for the offseason?
DP: I will be playing in the BC Amateur, Canadian Amateur, and most likely a few more tournaments. I will also be doing some volunteer work in the hospital, and practicing out at my home course in preparation for next season. Coach is probably coming up for a bit in the summer, and a few of my teammates that graduated last year also plan to visit so it should be lots of fun!
AM: Looking long term, what do you see as your goals for your remaining time left at CU?
DP: I think we have a great recruiting class coming in, and I'd like to see us continue to progress to a point where we can win a few tournaments each season. With a little depth to our team we will be able to climb up the rankings and make it to the nationals by my senior year!