On Friday, Arkansas men’s golf senior Sebastian Cappelen will return to Sea Island Golf Club’s Seaside Course, where last year he became just the second player in program history to win the SEC Individual Championship. He won the title in style with a SEC Championship 54-hole record score of 202, highlighted by 40 straight holes without a bogey. It can be intimidating to return to the place you’ve been most successful, but Cappelen — a three-time Palmer Cup participant for Team Europe and a two-time All-American — hasn’t let himself get into that mindset. He’s got a short and simple plan for success and he’s shared it with his teammates: get the ball on the green, do whatever it takes. We caught up with Sebastian as he prepares for his fourth and final SEC Championship and relives his success from his last outing at the Seaside Course.
What did you have going during last year’s SEC Championship that allowed you to go 40 straight holes without a bogey?
#SeaBass: “I was just able to keep the ball straight. It’s important to be able to control your distance and your curves, but with the harsh conditions and the course it was just important for me to keep my ball straight. The course doesn’t have much trouble in front of the greens, so if you can land them short and kick them up onto the green it doesn’t really matter. Keeping my ball straight was the key to my success because I hit 36 greens out of 36 holes in the last two rounds, which made it easier not to make a bogey.”
When you’re at your best like you were at last year’s SEC Championship, do you forget about everything else and get in a groove?
#SeaBass: “It does feel easy; you just click. You find an exact way to approach that particular golf course. I found out after that I couldn’t play every golf course like I play Sea Island. It just wouldn’t be the right thing to do and I wouldn’t play that well if I did. Every course is unique, and it just clicked for me in at the SEC Championship so hopefully I can get back to that.”
This weekend will be your fourth trip to the SEC Championship. How does the experience you’ve gained over the past three seasons help prepare you for this weekend? #SeaBass: “[The experience] is everything because that course is so special. It’s unlike any other golf course I play because the green complexes are really large runoffs and have really tight cut grass. You can get in positions that make you shoot shots that you wouldn’t usually hit. If you haven’t played it before, it isn’t easy, but I feel like I know what to expect now. It takes some of the pressure off.”
What kind of guidance can you give to your teammates going into the tournament? #SeaBass: “I’m going to do everything I can. We’ve been talking about what we need to practice on and focus on and, to me, hitting the greens is the key. We’ve got to keep the ball in play off the tee. Not being scared is huge, too, because I’ve watched good teams and played with good players there. Some of the plays are wider than they look and you just have to trust it. I’m going to try to get the guys to get in the mode that a driver is the right play on some of the holes, even though it doesn’t feel like it. You just have to trust it and try to hit the greens.”
Do postseason tournaments have a different feel? #SeaBass: “It’s never really felt any different to me because, at the end of the day, it is just another tournament. Obviously it is a bigger event, but for me, I like to attack everything the same way so I can keep my routines and inner tension the same. Hopefully we can stay that way and not get over excited or feel too much pressure.”
How has your game grown during your time at Arkansas? #SeaBass: “I feel like I’ve learned a lot about myself and the way I handle myself on a golf course. I have matured a lot and learned to play good golf, not just hit good shots. I’ve learned to score and how to turn a good number on a day when you’re not really feeling it, which is going to be a key to my success in the future because you have to make the cut every week to get a check.”