Blog 237, 9/18/12 - Rawitzer Enjoys the Japan Experience

At the welcome party (Matt in white jacket).
Matt Rawitzer, playing in the colors of Oregon State University, shot 18-over 228 at last week's Topy Cup (results here) played at Tanagura CC, 140 miles north of Tokyo. The senior from Bellingham finished tied for 55th in Japan's intercollegiate golf championship in which six teams from Japan, four from the US, and two teams of individuals competed. Rawitzer wasn't on top form by any means, coming in 26 shots behind the individual winner Shinji Tomimura of Tohoku Fukushi University but, he says, it was an amazing trip nonetheless. Bellinghamgolfer contacted Matt on his return.

How do you think you played? What were you pleased with and what didn't work?
I wasn't very pleased with the way I played in Japan. I never got a good feel for the course and had a tough time adjusting. My ball-striking was horrid which cost me severely on a really tight golf course. I saw some improvement in my wedge game and putting which I was pleased with, however. Overall there's a lot of work to be done, but it was a fun event to start the year.

Describe the experience of playing in Japan
It was unforgettable. The entire time we kept talking about how incredible it was that we were able to travel overseas and represent Oregon State in a golf tournament. Not one of us ever imagined that happening in our college careers. None of us had even been to Asia before except one of our players, Scott Kim, who has family in Korea. Basically, everything we did and saw was new to us. No golf tournament I have ever played compares to the Topy Cup solely because it's so different to anything else we play in. And our team definitely got a lot closer because of it.

What did you get up to away from the course?
After the tournament, we were fortunate enough to spend two days in Tokyo. We took the bullet train there which was pretty cool as it travels well over 100 mph. Once we got to Tokyo we packed as much in as we could. I reckon I slept maybe eight hours total in a 60-hour period. We pretty much just topycup2explored the city and roamed around. The entire team went to the Sumo Championships (left; Matt in black T-shirt) which only happen for two weeks every year. That was an awesome experience because it is such a Japanese thing. I also went to the Tsukiji Fish Market with my coach at 5:30am on our last morning. The scene there made Pike Place in Seattle look like your local seafood counter at a grocery store. I saw some food there that can't even be described it was so weird. We also saw the Imperial Palace Gardens which gave us a sense of the history of Japan. It was easily the most jam-packed two days of my life!

Did you get to tee it up with Japanese players? If so, was the language barrier a problem?

We played with two Japanese players each day. We didn't talk much because they spoke little English, but we tried to communicate in other ways. It's not customary for them to talk much during golf anyway, so it wasn't awkward or anything. I even exchanged team shirts with one of my playing partners after a round at our hotel, even though we couldn't really talk to each other. That was really cool.

What now? How will you prepare for your next tournament?
First, I have to come down from the excitement of Japan. We'll have 72 holes of qualifying for the Mark Simpson Invitational in Colorado. I just need to strike the ball better and give myself good opportunities to make birdies. If I can do that I think things will work themselves out nicely. I'm excited to get back into regular competition so my biggest thought is to compete hard.

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