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May 24, 2018

Alan Bratton

Grant Hirschman

Viktor Hovland

Ryan Hybl

Stillwater, Oklahoma

RICK NIXON: Good afternoon. Thanks for joining us. We have a chance to talk some golf as we get ready to start the 2018 Division I men's golf championships here at Karsten Creek. From Oklahoma, we've got head coach Ryan Hybl, and from Oklahoma State, we have head coach Alan Bratton. Viktor Hovland is from Oklahoma State, Grant Hirschman is from Oklahoma, and we'll do some opening remarks and then open it up to the media for questions.

Alan, we'll start with you. Just a quick question about the excitement of the tournament getting set to start here tomorrow in still water.

ALAN BRATTON: Yeah, we've been looking forward to this for a long time, and that's why they built Karsten Creek, so the excitement level is off the chart, can't thank our people enough for getting everything ready. Got your adrenaline going yesterday watching the girls. That was a great championship. And hopefully this week will deliver the same kind of excitement.

RICK NIXON: Ryan, talk about the excitement trying to defend your national championship here starting tomorrow.

RYAN HYBL: Well, obviously we're excited to be here in our home state of Oklahoma. This is a great championship golf course, and we're looking forward to the challenge.

Last year was a special year for us, but we've moved on, and we're ready to go hopefully do something special again this year.

RICK NIXON: Grant, talk about the practice round today. How did you find the course?

GRANT HIRSCHMAN: Yeah, the course was in great shape. It's definitely ready for a championship tournament, as you saw this past week with the girls, but we're all ready to compete, and we're looking forward to getting after it.

RICK NIXON: Viktor, same question to you. Talk about the course and talk about your expectations.

VIKTOR HOVLAND: Yeah, the course was in pretty good shape. Yeah, there are a few new tee boxes that we haven't played that much, so it's playing a little differently, but it's in great shape, and we're supposed to have some good weather, and it'll be a really good test.

Q. Viktor, you just talked about some new tee boxes. Was 17 one of those tee boxes, the one way back there that you don't really play that much?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Yeah, 17 and 18.

Q. What's going to make those two holes difficult?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Just the wind. The length itself isn't that bad, but if you get into the wind on 17, you've got to hit two really good golf shots. But I think that suits us really well.

Q. Do you think guys are going to have to hit driver pretty much if the wind is blowing in?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Oh, for sure.

Q. Alan, obviously golfers are creatures of habit, and your guys not being able to play on your home course, how much has that changed the routine for them, having to have them all over the state?
ALAN BRATTON: Well, we had talked about that all year, so we were ready for that. We go down to Oak Tree quite a bit and we went down there a couple times, we play Stillwater Country Club all the time. We got to sleep in our own bed this week, so the routine wasn't that different. It was a little strange not being able to come out here, but at the end of the day, it really wasn't all that different for us. We were at familiar places, and it's always good to get in the car, drive a little bit, spend that time together as a team. And our guys looked sharp. We got to see some different places, different looks and shoot some low scores, so that was fun.

Q. Grant, you guys are the defending national champions, but do you feel like you guys enter this week a little bit under the radar because the school that's hosting is really good, too?
GRANT HIRSCHMAN: Yeah, I feel like we come in here a little bit under the radar, but it's nothing that we can't overcome, and we definitely want to go back winners.

Q. Coach Hybl, where does Brad Dalke fit in OU history?
RYAN HYBL: Well, he's a big part of OU history, and he's continuing to create that legacy. But no different than all of our guys. He's obviously been an integral part of our development over the last couple years and whatnot, but a guy like Grant Hirschman who's up here with me right now has been probably the most consistent golfer I've had, including Brad. I'll answer your question, there's a lot of pieces that go into this puzzle, but not to take away what Brad has been able to do for us. He's been powerful at times and very dynamic, but this is such a team sport. There's four scores every single day, and all these guys do such a great job.

But he's putting his stamp on our program, and it's what we were hoping and expecting.

Q. Coach Bratton, you guys have been pretty much the best team in golf all season long. You're hosting the national championship on your home course. Talk about if there is a pressure to hosting the national championship?
ALAN BRATTON: I think it's a wonderful advantage. Our guys will have played the course in every wind and every condition that you can have. I think in every sport you play for home field advantage, and hopefully a big advantage for us this week will be having a lot of people out there wearing orange. That will be great for college golf if we could turn out some fans. The kids don't always get to play in front of a big crowd, so hopefully that's motivating for our guys. But this golf course is demanding. You've got to execute no matter what, so we'll be ready to go, and just excited to be home playing.

Q. This question is for both coaches. You guys will be paired together the next two days, and obviously if everything goes according to plan, there's a chance you guys could be in the final. What would all that and kind of the rivalry do for college golf, especially since it's going to be on TV and people are going to be watching?
ALAN BRATTON: I mean, that would be great for college golf. I think that would be fantastic. I don't think either one of us would complain. But this sport you've got to bring it every single day. We both have had nice years to date, but golf, you've got to bring it every single day. We'll be focused on the first tee ball tomorrow and playing as good as we can, and hopefully we're fortunate enough for that to happen. But we're focused on trying to win a championship no matter who the opponent.

RYAN HYBL: Yeah, and for us, this is just an honor to be able to play a national championship in our home state. We love -- our guys are relishing this moment. We just had regionals at our home golf course last week, which was awesome. We had big 12s at Southern Hills in Tulsa, so it's been a great month of golf for us in the state of Oklahoma, and I'm hoping that our fans, and I know they're going to show up here in Stillwater and I know the Cowboys are going to come out strong. But to Al's point, we're worried about our first tee ball tomorrow, and there's so many great teams, it's really just about playing the golf course for what it is and us trying to fight through, because this is a very challenging and tough week for sure, and we'll just add them up at the end.

Q. Coach Hybl, you talked about both schools are going to have a good amount of fans here. How is that going to help your players as you go into this weekend?
RYAN HYBL: Yeah, I think it's going to help us out a lot. Our guys playing in front of people, and this is our opportunity to showcase their talents, and they're excited about that challenge and that opportunity. I think it's only going to help us and keep our guys focused in on their job.

You know, it's going to be great because Oklahomans love college golf, they love amateur golf, and they will come out, and it should be really exciting out here the next couple days.

Q. Back in 2011, fans were here in droves, so following that up, when your fans are going to get out here, how is that going to boost your players?
ALAN BRATTON: Yeah, I mean, that's great for everybody, certainly for our guys but for anybody. These kids will get to perform. If you want to get excited and there's nobody watching, that's a little bit of a challenge sometimes. That kind of excitement can allow you to do special things. The state of Oklahoma really does support golf. This is a golf state. If you look at the attendance of major championships that have been in this state, whether that's PGA Championships, U.S. Opens, Senior Opens, the fans turn out. I expect tons of OU fans, OSU fans and just golf fans in general. This is a golf state, and that will be exciting for the whole field and obviously for both of our teams.

Q. For both coaches, the Big 12 recently announced a Match Play Championship in the fall. How important do you feel it is that the conference did that, and then do you see other tournaments maybe starting to do that because of the fact that match play ultimately decides the champion at the end?
RYAN HYBL: Yeah, I mean, we've been working on that. It didn't just come out of thin blue air. We've been working and talking about this for a couple years now, and we were fortunate enough to find a golf course that was really, really excited about hosting just north of Houston, actually an Oklahoma State alum is allowing us to come down there, and we've put together a great format. It's going to be a lot of golf, but it's match play, and our kids will be very, very excited. But that was part of the plan was to allow our kids to get that experience.

The match play has been going on since I guess 2009 was our first year, and college golf really hasn't transitioned into very much match play golf tournaments. Our still standard golf tournaments are out there. So it's going to be nice for us as a conference to actually have a Match Play Championship but then follow it up with a great 72-hole stroke play championship in the springtime. So it's nothing to discount our springtime championship. That's still going to be as special as it's ever been, it's just going to provide a unique new opportunity for us in the fall.

ALAN BRATTON: Yeah, our conference has got a chance to be a leader. We already -- I don't think there's any doubt, certainly won't get any argument from anyone here that we have the best conference championship, 72 holes of stroke play on three and now four fantastic venues. So we talked about trying to do the same thing, be a leader, do something different, and maybe we can capture some excitement from our fans in and around the country, as well, kind of around the end of the fall to do a match play championship. With the two pools, it'll be a format that I'm not aware of anyone else ever doing. Ryan and his assistant worked really hard to work that scenario out and work through all the contingencies, and I think we've got a chance to even right out of the gates have a really special championship and another great competitive opportunity and a great way to use those three days of competition. We'll actually get more rounds of golf in than we would at a regular stroke-play event. We're excited for that, and I think it's going to be great for our conference and give our conference a chance to continue to lead as hopefully the best golf conference in the country.

Q. For Viktor and Grant, there will be a lot of fans here for both your teams. What's the trick to playing golf (indiscernible)?
GRANT HIRSCHMAN: I mean, at the end of the day, we're still just playing golf, but it'll definitely add a lot having a bunch of fans out there, seeing your fans and Cowboy fans that'll increase emotions which we can't let that get the best of us. But I'm looking forward to having a bunch of fans out there watching us this week.

VIKTOR HOVLAND: Yeah, I just see it as a huge advantage for us. Obviously we're going to have a lot of fans for us, support us, and just try to take that to -- use it to our advantage. If you hit a good shot, you can kind of use the crowd and get fired up. But you've just got to get your normal shots and play the course like you normally would do. But I would probably say, yeah, they're there to support you, and that's going to help you.

Q. Winning a national title obviously takes priority, but how much more meaningful would that national title be if you had to go through Oklahoma or Oklahoma State?
RYAN HYBL: I mean, we're all wanting that buildup, right? We have this "Driven" show that's been going on. Everybody is trying to build up the rivalry. We've had a really nice year. These guys have had a phenomenal year. So I think that's what everybody wants. But at the end of the day, we're worried about the next day, and I know everybody is wanting us to answer these questions to where we're going to be butting heads and all that kind of stuff, but it's true. Our golfers, it's very scheduled out every single day, just like we do every -- throughout the entire year. If we're lucky enough to have that opportunity to play these guys, it will be pandemonium out there I'm sure, and our guys will be relishing that moment for sure, and we hope that we get that opportunity.

ALAN BRATTON: Championships are sweet no matter what happens, and we've got to take care of a lot of things before you can really get to that. But clearly that's a dream scenario. I know everybody up here on the stage would love that. But again, we've got to go earn that right to give the people that come out that treat. Again, we'll be working on the first tee ball tomorrow, trying to get there.

Q. Speaking of the "Driven" show, this is for Viktor and Grant. What has it been like to see yourselves on TV with the season playing out?
VIKTOR HOVLAND: Yeah, it's pretty cool to see yourself on TV, although not fun when you say dumb stuff (laughter), but yeah, it's kind of awkward, but I'm sure if we keep playing good golf, that's kind of how it's going to be like. It's good to kind of try and get used to it while you're in college as an amateur, and it doesn't feel as big when you turn pro.

GRANT HIRSCHMAN: Yeah, it was pretty weird at first, pretty awkward trying to get used to cameras following us around. I had to go to class with two cameras following me walking in, and everybody in the class is trying to figure out who I am and why I have cameras following me. But it was definitely good. It was good kind of experience, and we all got used to cameras and seeing ourselves on TV. It's kind of helped us learn a little bit about where we can improve on certain aspects. But overall it's been a lot of fun to watch.

Q. Do you guys get recognized around campus then?
GRANT HIRSCHMAN: Yeah, a little bit. I've gained some followers on social media through it, which is a positive.

Q. Grant, I don't know how familiar you were with Karsten, but what did it look like today in this practice round? I know they talked about the rough, but how did it play out in some of your shots out there today?
GRANT HIRSCHMAN: I played here two years ago in regionals, and I also played U.S. Amateur qualifying and the Ping Invitational, so I've played quite a few rounds here, but the rough is healthy. It's good rough all around, and it's manageable, and the golf course is in perfect shape. It's going to reward you if you play good golf, and it's going to penalize you if you hit bad shots, so it's all you can ask for.

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