Derek Bard is a junior at the University of Virginia and a member of the varsity golf team. Born and raised in New Hartford, NY, near Utica, Bard captured the attention of the golfing public when he marched to the finals of the 2015 USGA Amateur championship, at the Olympia Fields country club near Chicago. His journey to the championship match included a victory over then-#1 ranked world amateur, Jon Rahm of Spain. Although he lost that final match to Bryson DeChambeau, Bard gained the affection of golf’s fandom and earned exemptions into the 2016 Masters and USGA Open tournaments. Despite his hectic schedule this week at Augusta, he found time to answer our usual spate of questions.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to find golf as more than just a pastime.
Started playing when I was 4, my dad and my uncle got me into the game. Started playing competitively when I was 6 and it kind of took off from there.
2. When did you begin to compete at golf and what attracted you to the tournament side of the game?
Age 6 was my first tournament, I played in the US Kids World championship qualifier and won it. I love how it is an individual sport, it is one of a kind.
3. Have you worked with specific teaching professionals? If so, which one(s) and how did she/he/they bring you from student to top-notch amateur golfer?
Coach Sargent at UVA has really helped me grow as a player. When I came in he started working with me right away, I was struggling at the time. After a couple weeks working on some changes I started to play better.
4. Tell us a bit about your home club (Cedar Lake, right?) and how it shaped you as a golfer.
Cedar Lake is great, all the members are so friendly. They have a great junior golf program that I did when I was younger. Small, fast greens that I got used to that I think gives me an advantage at other courses.
5. What have high school and college golf meant to you? It’s hard to make golf into a team sport, as it depends on the individual. What does the team aspect add to the experience?
Coming together with a group of guys is great. I feel like the team aspect isn’t too much different, you still play individually and add them up at the end. But the camaraderie is great.
6. You came out on the short end of the title match at the 2015 US Amateur. Tell us what you learned and what you were most proud of, about that match with Bryson.
I learned that you’re never really out of it until the end. I was down in every match that I won except one, and to come back against some of those guys is special. It was such a grind. Bryson is a great player and made a lot of putts. It was his week
7. You knew that you would be invited to The Masters and the US Open as a US Amateur finalist. Tell us what those opportunities have meant to you and how you have gone about preparing for Augusta National and Oakmont.
Dreams come true. I’m not preparing any different than any other tournament, on purpose. I’m trying to keep it as simple as possible.
8. What have you learned about Augusta National in the few days that you have been able to practice there?
Where to miss and some of the breaks on the greens. Played with Larry Mize (1987 Masters Champion) today and he give me some good info. Starting to feel a little more comfortable out there
9. What question did we not ask (that no one has asked) that you would love to answer? Ask it and answer it, please, and thank you for your time today.
My biggest golf idol. I was a Tiger fan growing up. I loved him, watched him every tourney he played. He’s a big reason why I have so much passion for the game, what he achieved.
Thank you very much for your time today, Derek. We wish you the best of luck this year in all your endeavors.