Editor's Note: Arkansas landed Sebastian Cappelen prior to the 2010 season and both have been red-hot ever since. As a freshman, Cappelen earned a spot on the all-SEC Freshman Team and was a third-team all-American by Golfweek.
Cappelen won the Seminole Intercollegiate event and finished in the top 10 in six of the 13 tournaments he played.
As one of Arkansas' top golfers, Cappelen helped the team to a win at the Gopher Invitational and Golfweek Conference Challenge to begin the season, and help the Razorbacks reach a No. 1 ranking nationally.
In this edition of Q&A, Cappelen talks about the early season success, where he has grown as a golfer and how SEC expansion affects the links.
Hawgs Illustrated: Things have been going well this year with a couple of wins a number one ranking. How does that feel?
Sebastian Cappelen: Great. I mean the coaches are working hard. In the preseason when we got back, he said he wanted that number one ranking as soon as possible. I guess we got it but then fell back a couple of spots after a couple of teams played in some more recent tournaments. If we do good in the next tournament, we'll get it back. That's our goal every week is to get that number one spot.
HI: A few years ago, Arkansas finished national runner-up in golf. How much do you think the success this year is a reflection of building off that season?
Cappelen: I think it just shows (Coach) Brad (McMakin) is doing a great job with everyone, keeping everyone interested at all times. The kids he is bringing in are really good. By having this first spot this early in the season, it gives us maybe a little more on the way to winning a national championship. It gives us some motivation. We know we're able to beat the best.
HI: You went to Minnesota and won your first tournament of the year. To be able to kick-off the season with a win, how big is that?
Cappelen: I think it was extra big because Brad has finished runner-up in that tournament a couple of times, but had never won it. It was his first time winning that tournament and it meant a lot to him. It's great for the team to start out with a win. It's always a nice feeling to go back knowing you did what you had to do, and just work from there.
HI: Now a sophomore, where have you seen the most growth in your game from your first year of college to your second year?
Cappelen: I don't know. I had such a good year the first year that I'm just trying to stay in that zone. What I did last year is what I want to keep doing, the way I played and the way I approached everything. Over the summer I took some time off just to get motivated again and get ready to come back here. Right now I'm just focusing on getting my technique back. That's not to say I lost it. I just want to get in the same mode again I was in last year.
HI: What does time off look like for you?
Cappelen: I played two tournaments after the national championship. I played the Palmer Cup in New York and played in the Danish Match Play in the European Championships. I was basically done about midway through July. I took about a month off.
HI: Do you mean a month off completely?
Cappelen: Just from tournaments. I still practiced and had fun, and maybe played with friends and stuff. I didn't completely put the clubs in the closet. I took time to mentally relax and not have to worry about performing every weekend.
HI: When you have such a good year as a freshman, do you worry about a dropoff the next year?
Cappelen: I've been thinking about it. To get away from that you've just got to stay in the moment and take every day, day-by-day. I'm doing what I can every day. I trust my own capabilities to do the best I can. If I do that, I know myself and know what I can do.
HI: As you mentioned, Arkansas came close to winning a championship a few years ago. Having been ranked so high this season, how obtainable do you think a championship is this year?
Cappelen: I think it's definitely within reach. The thing about a national championship is you have to play great; you can't play just good, but great because every team is there. If we have just one day off, it will keep us from winning the national championship. You have to have some additional luck during a national championship, too. That's what we saw from Augusta State last year. They were a good team but hadn't been performing throughout the year like an Oklahoma State or Georgia Tech, or someone like that, where you expect them to be in the finals. It's kind of unpredictable who wins the national championship once in a while. That's why a coach wants that high ranking. It says more about the team than winning a national championship. It shows more overall season performance.
HI: What about winning a conference title?
Cappelen: We definitely play in the strongest conference when it comes to golf. That would mean a lot. We definitely want that.
HI: When people talk conference expansion, they talk mostly football and basketball. Texas A&M won a national title the year Arkansas finished runner-up. What do the Aggies do for the strength of the SEC in golf?
Cappelen: They've got a great golf team. It would make it harder, for sure, but I think it would make it better. It would increase competition and force us to do better.
HI: Do you embrace that extra level of competition?
Cappelen: We don't worry too much about it. We just try to focus on our own game. That will get us where we need to be, hopefully.
Photo by Marc F. Henning
Sebastian Cappelen Q&A
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