William Moll grew up playing in the Southern Texas PGA Junior Golf Program. He has become one of the top junior golfers in the country, and recently had the opportunity to represent the United States at the Junior Ryder Cup in Paris, France. William was kind enough to take time to answer some questions we had for him about his experience there, and his history in the STPGA Junior Golf Program.
How did the nerves of your first tee shot on Monday morning rank amongst most nervous golf shots you’ve ever hit?
It was definitely the most nervous I have ever felt standing over a golf ball. There were a lot of people watching, and as I thought about what was at stake, it made the anxiety about the first shot even greater. Playing for something larger than myself brought a lot of extra weight to the shot.
What was the best advice you heard in Paris about how to stay calm under pressure?
Our captain, Mr. Allen Wronowski, PGA, told us to have a great time and enjoy every second while on the course because it was going to be such an awesome experience. Once I got past the first tee shot, by focusing on the present and enjoying the moment I was able to stay calm most of the time.
Talk about the difference in mindset you had when playing alternate shot and best ball. Which one did you prefer playing in?
When playing alternate shot, you need to consider your playing partner, and what he/she would like to hit on the next shot. Best ball is just about making the best score possible with your own ball and you can usually play more aggressively. I prefer best ball because I sometimes find it hard to get into a groove when playing alternate shot.
How badly do you want to play in the Ryder Cup one day, having now gotten a taste of the Junior Ryder Cup?
I would absolutely love to be able to play in the Ryder Cup someday. It is probably one of the biggest goals I could set for myself. The feeling I had walking down to the first tee in front of the crowd was overwhelming. It was so cool and exciting being there. The atmosphere is completely different from a regular tournament. There is so much pride for your country and the competition is intense. I love both of those things.
What was it like playing as the away team in Europe? How much different would the experience have been had you played in the States?
It was definitely tough playing as the away team. Most of the fans were rooting for the European team and adjusting to the time change was a challenge as well. I know that our team was really tired because of the time difference. I think playing in the States would have been better for our team golf wise, but I am glad we played where we did because we were able to see and experience a new country and to some degree, a different style of golf.
You had a very back and forth singles match against Rasmus Hojgaard. Even though he got the edge on you, how much fun was that environment?
The match was awesome even though I lost. I played one of my best rounds, shooting six under. I felt like I put up a good fight, especially down the stretch when we halved a couple of holes with birdies. It was just super fun being able to compete well against one of the top-30 amateurs in the world. It meant a lot to me and gives me confidence knowing that I was able to perform fairly well under the circumstances.
How much more did the nerves kick in after that match, having to watch your teammates and hope that your match wouldn’t be the difference-maker in the final outcome?
Nerves were really high watching the last few matches finish. You definitely think about the “what ifs” in your own match, but while the other matches were still being played, I wanted to concentrate on supporting my teammates. We already had 12 points to secure the tie and we wanted to get another half point to secure the outright win. Watching Rachel Heck’s 12-foot birdie putt to halve her match to win it for the team was very intense and the feeling of euphoria was awesome when she made it.
What was it like getting to meet and hang out with other top junior golfers across the country?
It was so much fun playing with the other junior golfers on the team. While I already knew some of the US players pretty well from other tournaments, over the course of the week in Paris I feel like the entire team really bonded and we all became great friends. We spent so much time together competing as teammates, practicing together, cheering for each other, eating together, going to Disneyland, and just hanging out. Also, getting to meet and know the players from the European team was very special too.
Was there any particular reason you were teamed up with Cole Ponick and Rachel Heck on Monday? Similar golf games, similar personalities, both, or something else?
Well, for both of those pairings, we were paired together because Cole, Rachel, and I are good friends. Chemistry is essential in team match play, so it is important to be paired with someone you get along with well. Also, Cole and I have very similar golf games, so for alternate shot that may have been a factor in our pairing.
Where do you go from here after this experience and what will be the lasting takeaway from your time at this event?
Now that I am back home, I will go back to preparing for college and the rest of my junior career. I can practice now with a new goal in mind of hopefully being able to play in a Ryder Cup someday. The feeling of pride for my country as I walked to the first tee is something I will never forget. Playing in the Junior Ryder Cup is definitely an experience that will motivate me to achieve my goals in the future.
What advice would you give younger golfers?
One thing I would say to junior golfers is just to keep playing the game you love. Getting experience on the course is awesome and very beneficial to your golf game, so practice, but make sure to play a lot too. Just have fun in your junior golf experience and make life-long friends at tournaments.
Over the years, what has the Southern Texas PGA meant to you?
The STPGA has meant so much to me. When I was younger, the STPGA provided so many great opportunities to play and compete in golf tournaments, and there was always a goal to try to make it to the championship tournament and play well. Playing in those tournaments really helped me get to where I am today, with respect to my golf game and life in general. The STPGA has taught me many lessons about the game and has helped me love to play golf. The atmosphere the STPGA creates at tournaments is so fun that it’s impossible to not enjoy it no matter how you play.