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Wednesday, Nov. 29
The Indiana Daily Student

sports golf

Overton qualifies for British Open

During his tenure as a Hoosier golfer Jeff Overton made his share of birdies at the IU Golf Course east of campus off State Road 45/46. Now, Overton will take his swings thousands of miles overseas to compete in the 2008 British Open after qualifying by winning The Players Championship at Michigan.

“It’s pretty exciting,” he said. “I’ve never played in a major or been to Europe, and now I get to do both.”

The Open is being held July 17-20 at Royal Birkdale, which is about 25 miles north of Liverpool, England.

Overton, who graduated from IU in 2005 and has been playing professional golf ever since, will have the opportunity to take part in two things he has never experienced – traveling across the pond and taking part in a major golf championship.

“It’s pretty exciting,” he said. “I’ve never played in a major or been to Europe, and now I get to do both.”

This season has not been the best for Overton, who at one point missed the cut in six out of last seven tournaments.

Despite his early struggles this season, Overton caught fire by winning the international qualifier at the TPC of Michigan. Overton shot 14-under-par over 72 holes then went on the next week to place in a tie for ninth at the AT&T National tournament hosted by Tiger Woods.

IU assistant coach Josh Brewer believes despite inconsistencies this year, Overton can carry his momentum into the British Open and compete well with other top golfers.
“He has the talent to play at the highest level,” Brewer said.

This week, Overton will play in the John Deere Classic in Illinois before flying out to England immediately following the tournament.

Overton said it is hard to put into words what it is like to wake up every morning and be able to say he plays a sport he loves for a living.

“It’s a rush,” he said. “The cameras are in your face, but you have to control your emotions.”

IU coach Mike Mayer said it is quite rare for a golfer to go immediately from college to the pros like Overton has done.

Mayer also said that having the opportunity to coach Overton at IU has been a special experience for him.

“It was my distinct pleasure and honor to coach Jeff for four years at IU,” he said.
Overton’s competitiveness, determination and positive work ethic are characteristics that his close friend and former teammate Tad Sacheck said have contributed to Overton’s success.

Sacheck said he and Overton sometimes play checkers and although Sacheck could care less about who wins, Overton will be angry if he loses.

“He is probably the most competitive person I know,” Sacheck said.  
Overton might be competitive, but most of his friends describe him as down to earth and easy to talk to as well.

Even though Overton is beginning to earn a large sum of money, with his total earnings nearing $2 million for his career, he has not forgotten where he came from.
Overton bought a condominium in Bloomington and continues to work with Mayer, who is essentially his swing coach. He also plays golf with and helps current players on the IU team.

Although senior Seth Brandon was never a teammate of Overton’s, he said the Hoosier alumnus has helped him improve his game. Brandon also said he enjoys the opportunity to go head to head with a professional golfer, especially when he wins.

“It’s always nice to beat a guy on the PGA tour,” Brandon said.   

As for how well Overton can do in his first major, most predictions point to success. Brandon said he thought Overton’s game will fit the course well.

As Overton’s predictions of how well he will do, he said he is trying not to put any extra pressure on himself.

“It’s just another golf tournament,” he said. “I’m sure the first hole will be heart felt, but then it will be about settling in.”

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