Golf Q&A: Oklahoma coach Ryan Hybl
Ryan Hybl just completed his eighth season as the head coach at the University of Oklahoma. He capped off the season by bringing the Sooners their second national championship in school history after his team defeated the reigning champion Oregon Ducks in the final round of match play in the 2017 National Championship at Rich Harvest Farms.
Hybl brought success to the Oklahoma program even before leading them to the national title. Oklahoma has been to the NCAA Championship each of the last seven years and is one of five schools to reach the tournament in all the past five seasons. In 2016, his team reached the match play portion of the National Championship tournament for the first time in school history.
Before coming to Oklahoma, Hybl served as an assistant coach for the University of Georgia where he also played collegiate golf. As a player, he received All-America honors twice and was a Ben Hogan Award semifinalist in 2002. That same year Hybl helped Team USA defeat Team Europe at the Arnold Palmer Cup at Doonbeg Golf Club.
We talked with Hybl to talk about the national championship and his time coaching the Sooners.
1. Coach, you are only a few weeks removed from your team capturing the 2017 NCAA Division I National Championship at Rich Harvest Farms. Has it started to sink in yet? Almost a month later, what has it been like on campus and around town?
It is still sinking in more and more every day. Here at OU, we have such a supportive family throughout. Our university and athletic department recognize how difficult it is to win championships, and so everyone definitely values what our guys have just done. We win championships at OU at many of our sports, and we are truly honored to be part of that discussion now.
2. As a player at the University of Georgia, you were named to two PING All-America teams, a Srixon/Cleveland Golf All-America Scholar, and represented the United States in the Arnold Palmer Cup. Looking back, has your college career influenced your coaching style and, if yes, how? Did any lessons you learned when your college team was in a similar situation help you and specifically this spring at the national championship?
I think all of my experiences have helped develop me and my career. I was at a great program at UGA and was part of some of the best teams in college golf, and that is what I have tried to develop here in Norman, Oklahoma.
My coaching style is very similar to how I was a player myself. I try to get our guys as competitive and gritty as possible throughout the year. We do that in different ways every year, but that is the culture that I think we have here at OU.
3. You have been very successful in your time at Oklahoma, and now you can cap off all that hard work with the Sooners' first national championship since 1989. How did you prepare your players leading up to the tournament? Did you do anything differently this year than you have in years past?
The difference for us this year was that we had experience from the previous year.
In 2016, we made our first Final 8 appearance, and our guys looked like we had just made our first Final 8 — anxious and overwhelmed. The minute we got back to the locker room in Norman after the 2016 championship, I told our guys we will be back in there the next year and that we would be so much better.
So as we prepared for the postseason, I could feel the difference in our guys and their perspective on the championship. They had a calmness about them that I will never forget, and there was definitely something special happening with that group during the entire week.
4. At what point during the tournament or season did you realize that your team was playing well enough to win the championship?
During the second round, when we got to minus-20 during the stroke-play portion, I felt like our guys collectively all had their games going in the right direction and that we could have a great week. Saying that though, it is such a long and grueling week, you just never know what is around the corner.
5. Your team was able to pull off an incredible rally to beat Baylor in the quarterfinal round of match play. What does it say about your players that they continued to fight even though the odds were stacked against them? What were you telling them on the back nine?
Match play is such an awesome part of our game. The best thing that was happening in the Baylor match for all of our guys is the fact that everyone was in the game.
Even though all five of our guys were down, no one ever got down more than 1 or 2, and there is always hope when you have that going on. Our guys fought so hard and executed at the right time in order for that match to go in our favor
6. What does this national championship victory mean to your personally and to the program as a whole?
This championship is validation for a lot of hard work from a lot of players and coaches. I think back to some of my early years at OU, and I cannot thank the guys then that have allowed our program to continue to grow and become what we are today in 2017.
These memories for our guys will last forever, and we all have this special bond now of being national champions.
7. How do you plan to handle the daunting task of defending the national championship?
We will do the same things we do every year, prepare for each week to get better so that hopefully we will have a chance to compete for a title. Our guys will be even more hungry this year because they have tasted what it feels like to win the big show.