Men’s golf captain Li Wang ’17 set a course record at Yale in his second round on Saturday. The senior shot just 60 on the 70-par course to tie an NCAA record. He finished second in the Macdonald Cup at seven-under-par and the Eli team took third overall in the tournament. Wang spoke with the News about his performance this weekend and his collegiate golf career.

Q

How did you feel after shooting a 10-under round on Saturday, tying the NCAA record?

A

It was pretty surreal, actually. During the round I was in a zone. I’ve read about the zone before with other athletes and how they get to a point where they stop thinking and just start doing. I didn’t really have to subconsciously think about what I was going do next and it just kind of flowed naturally — I have never experienced that on the course before. It was just a day where everything went right. Basically, I hit all of my shots close to the hole and then I made all of my putts, too.

Q

Individually, you came in second place overall. Do you celebrate a win more than you would obsess about a loss?

A

I would definitely celebrate a win a lot more, but there was a lot to take away from this round because I had been struggling all season. I had been making some swing changes to try to get better and they really had not kicked in. So especially as captain, I felt it was my obligation to lead the team, both in conduct as well as [in] my performance on the course. I really had not been doing my part on the course to help the team. I was kind of struggling with my game a little bit, but I still stuck with it, and I was confident that it would click someday. And then it just happened to click on Saturday, so there’s a lot of positives to take away from this weekend.

Q

What do you think has been the key to your success on the golf course this year?

A

I think I have been having some very focused practices. I think during practice in the past, I would let my mind wander a little bit and it would not be as productive as I like. This year I have made it a priority to always stay focused and positive, not only during tournaments but also during practice. I would go into practice with a different goal every day and say “This is what I want to work on today.” When I leave practice, I want to have gotten better at whatever I set out to do. It gives you measurable goals because when I go into practice and want to get better at something, such as putting, I work two hours on putting that day and I leave practice with the sense that I improved at something instead of just putting in that three hours and saying that I went to practice today. [Having] really focused and dedicated practices and working on something specific each day has really helped me get better this season.

Q

How much time do you usually spend golfing, whether it’s practicing or playing, knowing that you’ll always have a rigorous amount of academic coursework alongside it?

A

In season, the time commitment is usually between 20 and 30 hours per week whether it’s practicing, playing or traveling to tournaments. Our season ends in early November, and then we don’t start again until spring break around the first week of March. Our only commitment during that gap in between will be workouts or yoga with the team three to four times per week. In season it’s very intense, and in the offseason we’re able to branch out and explore some other stuff.

Q

Who do you think has had the biggest impact on you as a golfer?

A

My main mentor has been my coach [at Yale] Colin Sheehan ’97. He’s very invested in the team and he always knows what is going on with the program. I like to call myself a perfectionist, on the golf course at least, so I really get down on myself sometimes when I am not doing as well as I would like. Colin has just been one of those guys who is always able to keep things in perspective for me. He always sees the positives even though I may not, and he always helps me learn from my mistakes and move on. If it was just me I might get wrapped up in the negatives and let that affect my future performances.

Q

Aside from golf, what is one of your favorite passions or pursuits?

A

I love to play basketball. But there is always a cautionary tale between golfers and basketball. A lot of us have gotten injured on the basketball court and it’s affected our performance on the golf course. We all love to play basketball and we will often get together in the offseason to arrange some pick-up games.

Q

What are your future ambitions after you graduate from Yale?

A

Golf is definitely something I would like to do professionally if that works out, because that’s always been my dream to play golf on the PGA Tour. One of my biggest decisions going into college was whether to pursue golf at a school where I could practice more without as much academic pressure, because I was being recruited pretty heavily by a lot of Pac-12 schools. I could practice as much as I wanted and play in as many tournaments as I wanted, but obviously the decision to go to Yale was to get a really strong academic degree because the people who go to the other schools to only pursue a golf career do not really have anything to fall back on. I think being an economics major and having that Yale diploma will be a really valuable asset no matter what I do. I hope I have a chance to make it as a pro golfer because that is what I love the most.