VIRGINIA LOTTERY STUDENT-ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: ADAM BALL
JUST THE FACTS: The VCU sophomore golfer wrapped up his fall season by firing a final-round 69 to place third at the Bridgestone Golf Collegiate Oct. 26-27 in Greensboro, N.C. It was his fifth top-10 finish in 11 career tournaments as a Ram. As a freshman last season, Ball led VCU in scoring average (73.53) and is averaging more than a stroke better this year (72.50). A decorated junior golfer, Ball reached the quarterfinals of the 113th U.S. Amateur Championship in Brookline, Mass. this summer.
HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS WHERE THE TEAM IS RIGHT NOW? I'm really excited. The two freshmen [Hanish Nagrani and Enej Sarkanj] look very promising. Hanish, he stepped up big time for us. He's going to be a stud in a couple years. Gino [Vandenberg], he struggled last year, and he came in and put some big rounds in for us in the beginning. I think we can have a really good spring as long as people stay working hard over the offseason. I think we're a lot better team than we have been in past years. So it's looking up.
YOU'VE HAD A COUPLE OF NEAR-MISSES. WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO TO WIN YOUR FIRST COLLEGE TOURNAMENT? Just it all coming together at one time; Especially this fall, I've been really good at one thing in every tournament. Everything hasn't fallen into place yet. It's really close. Next semester, I'm going to put a lot of work in, and I think next semester could be big for me. I'm looking forward to it.
WHAT DID YOU GAIN FROM PLAYING IN THE U.S. AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP? A lot of confidence. It was just a great overall experience. It showed me just how good you have to be to play professionally. The golf courses they play are so much harder. The atmosphere is so much different , with TV cameras and galleries. It's really cool. It was a great learning experience for me.
YOU DON'T SEE A LOT OF MATCH PLAY LIKE AT THE U.S. AMATEUR. WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE MORE MATCH PLAY IN COLLEGE GOLF? I would love to. It's much more competitive, I think. It's totally a different mindset that you have to be in to play match play. You're not just playing the golf course, you're playing another person, so there's a lot more factors that come into play and decision-making and things like that. I love match play. I'm a very competitive person. Being in that head-to-head environment is really cool.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE FOR YOU BETWEEN A GREAT ROUND AND AN AVERAGE ONE? The putter. When you get to the level of Division I college golf, everyone can hit the ball really well. And it all comes down to who has the best short game, who's making the most putts.
FAVORITE GOLFER: Jason Dufner. He's so level and level-headed when he plays. He's really cool to watch.
GOLF COURSE(S) ON YOUR BUCKET LIST: Pebble Beach, Augusta, Saint Andrews.
THE BEST COURSE YOU'VE PLAYED: The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. at the U.S. Amateur. Absolutely. By far my favorite.
BUILD YOUR FOURSOME. IF YOU COULD PLAY 18 WITH ANY THREE PEOPLE, ALIVE OR DEAD: Jason Dufner, Arnold Palmer, Seve Ballesteros.
THE BEST GOLF SHOT YOU EVER HIT: In my quarterfinal match of the U.S. Junior Championship on my last hole. It was a drivable par 4, and I hit it left of the green, and I was 1 up at the time, and I was pretty much just absolutely screwed. I was in rough six inches deep, I had to hit it over a bunker, the green was facing away from me, the greens were brick hard, lightning fast. I just opened the face and hit it as hard as I could [with my wedge] and it hit in the rough just over the bunker and it trickled down within three feet. I ended up birdying the hole and I won 2 up. It was one of those where you hit it as hard as you can and hope it comes out right.
LIFETIME HOLES-IN-ONE: Five; Ball says he bagged his first ace when he was either 11 or 12 years old on No. 17 at Meadowbrook Country Club with a 7-iron.
BEST GOLF MOVIE OF ALL-TIME: "The Greatest Game Ever Played" or "Caddyshack"
FAVORITE PLACE TO EAT IN RICHMOND: The [Southern Railway] Taphouse.
BEST WAY TO SPEND A DAY OFF: Laying on the couch. But I usually end up going to play golf with some friends from back home. I always play golf, man. I need to take a break, but there's always somebody that wants me to go play, and I'm always up for it.
IN 10 YEARS: I hope I'm playing professional golf somewhere. It's really hard to make it. There's some different ways. But I want to play professional golf. That's always been my dream.
DREAM VACATION SPOT: Probably Scotland. Somewhere I can get a lot of rounds in.