Blog 286, 10/8/13 - Rawitzer Sees Benefits of Europe Trip

Last week, Bellingham's Matt Rawitzer was in Portugal for the first stage of European Tour qualifying. The former Oregon State and Squalicum High School player who finished tied for second at the Northwest Open in August, didn't play well enough to progress to the second stage, but he does believe the trip will prove beneficial in the long run. BellinghamGolfer talked to Matt about the experience and what his plans are now.

Matt Rawitzer
When did you start thinking about European Tour qualifying?

I had thought about trying to play in Europe for a couple of years, but it made complete sense last year when the PGA Tour reformatted their Q School system.

You went as an amateur. How does that work? I assume you would have had to turn pro if you qualified.
In Europe you can play the first two stages as an amateur, and with only a small payout to the top five finishers there wasn't a huge incentive to declare myself professional. And I wanted to remain eligible for the Hudson Cup Matches (top amateurs from the PNW vs. top professionals) at the end of October.

Did you have any clue about what to expect? Did you know who the other players might be? Anything about the course? Did you know what the standard was likely to be?
In all honestly, I kind of went over there blind, which was sort of my plan. I wanted to have virtually no expectations but rather focus on myself and everything I could do to play well without adding any extra pressure. I just anticipated that I would indeed need to play solid in order to advance, which was true.

You had a pretty good summer. You must have felt confident going over there.
I did feel confident heading over, and while I didn't play lights out this summer, I felt that I had made some good progress and was/am heading in a direction that I feel very positive about.

When did you arrive in Portugal, and were you able to enjoy yourself? Or was it all business?
I arrived in Portugal about five days before the tournament started. Before the tournament I only did some minimal sightseeing and walked around the town I was staying in since I was spending most of my time at the course. After the event, however, I got to spend two days exploring Lisbon and, thanks to a cancelled flight into Seattle, an extra night/day in Amsterdam.

Who went with you?
Just my dad.

Did you like the course (Ribagolfe in Lisbon)? Did it suit you?
I thought that it was a good golf course for the most part. The layout suited my game as it was very narrow and played somewhat long, which meant there was a particular emphasis on iron play. The only part that did not really suit me was the bermuda grass because we did not have that type where I had been practicing the previous few months.

Would you say you were unlucky, or did you just not play to your potential?

I just didn't play my best (scores here). Even though I didn't really have any expectations, there was definitely a different feeling and vibe to the whole thing. The point of it was to get as much knowledge and learn as much as I could from it, however, and that experience is invaluable.

Having seen the competition, are you now confident you could qualify next time?
I wouldn't say I'm more or less confident that I will make it through next time just from having seen the competition. But knowing what I need to do as far as preparations and how I react to certain situations will certainly be positive and help grow confidence for the future.

What have you got planned now? Will you get a job to pay for golf and try again next year?
My current plan is to move down to La Quinta, Calif. over the winter, work on my game, and play in some mini tour events. There is a very good chance I will go back over to Europe next year, but I'll most likely do Tour Q School as well. Coming up in the near future, however, I will play in the Hudson Cup at Pumpkin Ridge in Portland.

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