More than a half-century ago, Three Dog Night told the world that one is the loneliest number.
Whether that is true or not still is up for debate all these years later. But what isn't debatable is this – while Ashland University senior Austin Kondratick would like to be with his teammates at the NCAA Division II Central/Midwest super regional on Thursday-Saturday (May 9-11) Hot Springs Country Club, Arlington Course, in Hot Springs, Ark., he is going to go to his first postseason tournament and soak it all in.
"I'm beyond excited about it," said Kondratick, who is taking an average score of 73.04 this season and a score of 71 or better in eight of his last nine rounds into the super regional. "It's been something that I've been striving for for four years."
A two-time first-team All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference performer, Kondratick has steadily improved his game over the years – dropping his average round from 74.75 as a sophomore to the two best season averages for the program since at least the late 1990s – 73.60 as a junior, and this year's mark of just more than a stroke over par.
Kondratick was the leader of an Eagle team which was one of the best in the region in the month of April, and one which was close to winning the GLIAC Championships and making it to regionals as a full squad.
"This team that we had this year had so much potential at the start, and we finally got to pull it together," Kondratick said. "All of us coming together at the right time helped me personally, just staying in it and grinding and trying to pull it out for them. We almost pulled it off at the conference championship, but just being able to do that is incredible.
"The amount of fun that we've had this spring has really allowed me to play like I haven't before."
"Playing college golf is an incredible opportunity," said Ashland head coach Dennis North. "With this being Austin's final season, he's grateful for the opportunity to go out and compete once again in the regionals this week. Austin was selected as the No. 1 seed in our region. He's been very consistent all spring. We're very confident is Austin's ability and his commitment to excellence since arriving on campus."
Kondratick gave North a lot of credit when it comes to the strides he's made coming down the senior-year stretch.
"Dennis is so knowledgeable about the game of golf. He brought our games to the next level," said Kondratick. "Overall, just seeing a coach that puts in his 110 percent, and he's going over the edge for us. We play for him, we leave our heart out for him, because he's given us everything and more."
The Hot Springs course has a 72.8 rating and a 132 slope, and the tournament yardage is 6,713.
"I was looking at it. It's a nice country club, so I imagine it being like a traditional-style, a lot of water, a lot of hazards," Kondratick said. "I imagine it's going to be pretty demanding."
The top two individuals from each super regional not with an advancing team will move on to the 2019 NCAA Division II Championships, May 21-25 at The Resort at Glade Springs, Cobb Course in Daniels, W.Va.
"The way I look at it is, it's just another round of golf," Kondratick said. "You can only control what you can control, so I'm just going to go out there and play the way that I've been playing. I'm not going to prepare any differently or play any harder.
"Golf is just a crazy mind game. One of the biggest things that we talked about this spring…is that score is a distraction, and that every shot has the same significance. No shot is more important than the other. Once you wrap your head around that, it truly allows you to play fearless golf."
"We aren't going to worry about qualifying for nationals," North said. "As we've preached all year, we aren't going to worry about results, we aren't going to pay attention to score, we aren't going to discuss others' scores. We're going to stay in the moment, commit to every shot we hit and we'll add them up at the end of every day."