Q&A: Teddy Oitzman, Roberto Lebrija to fulfill dream of playing college golf together
When Teddy Oitzman verbally committed in January 2015 to play golf for Oregon, his work wasn’t done. Oitzman was still trying to convince his friend, Roberto Lebrija, to join him.
The two became friends when Lebrija moved from Mexico City to Oitzman’s hometown of Rancho Santa Fe, California. They began playing together at their home course, The Bridges.
Lebrija visited and gave his verbal commitment to Oregon six months after Oitzman. Oitzman and Lebrija made their commitments official when Oregon head coach Casey Martin signed the two, as well as Kevin Geniza, to National Letters of Intent last November.
The Emerald spoke to Oitzman in a phone interview about his goals for freshman year and his relationship with Lebrija.
Emerald: What factored into your decision of coming to Oregon?
Teddy Oitzman: It was basically, ‘Am I going to choose Pac-12 or Ivy League golf?’ At Columbia, I got a good vibe there, but it was essentially, ‘Do I want to give playing on the (PGA) Tour a good chance? If I do, go play at a Oregon …’ That was ultimately my decision. I said to myself, ‘Do I want to be 22 or 23 years old and didn’t get that much better in college? Or go play at Oregon and have a really good chance of playing on tour.’ My goal is to play on tour, and going to Oregon gives me the best chance of doing that.
E: Since you’re from Southern California, playing in great conditions year round, was it difficult to commit to a place like Oregon that has bad weather for several months of the year?
TO: It kind of sucks playing in rain, but then again I need to get better playing in it. In the PGA Tour, they play in pretty good weather all year. But obviously there’s places, in Europe or wherever, you’re going to play in rain.
If you can break par in Eugene when it’s rainy and windy … I think it will help me a lot.
E: How did you and Roberto come to know each other?
TO: He moved here [Rancho Santa Fe] the summer going into our sophomore year from Mexico City. We play a course called The Bridges in Rancho Santa Fe. It’s a [small] community. He moved in a pitching-wedge distance away from my house. I started seeing him play at the club when he moved here. We had known each other from national team events, but became really good friends playing golf here every single day.
E: Casey Martin mentioned that you and Roberto are buddies and chose to come to Oregon together. How did that happen?
TO: Yeah, our sophomore year, Roberto and I told each other we were going to play golf at Stanford together. But neither of us really meshed with [Stanford men’s golf head coach] Conrad Ray. It wasn’t for us ultimately, but we still wanted to go to school together.
I committed to Oregon six months before Roberto and I said, ‘Dude, you have to come look at this place … The facilities are great, the home course (Eugene Country Club) is awesome … Casey’s really good, Van’s really good.’
So he went up to Oregon, visited and decided he was going to go there.
E: When you get to U of O, do you have any other short or long-term goals?
TO: Yeah, definitely. When I committed, I didn’t think I was going to start my freshman year. I started working with a new swing coach and new chipping coach in the last six months and my game has improved a lot … It’s helped me gain some confidence. So a goal of mine is to start at least a few events in the fall of my freshman year.
Follow Will Denner on Twitter @Will_Denner
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