Sport: Men’s golf
Hometown: Blythe, Calif.
Major: Sport industry
Question: I am among the central Ohioans who have complained bitterly about this being a hot summer. As someone who grew up in the Sonoran Desert, can you set the record straight about when it’s really hot?
Answer: I get this question a lot. I was in Columbus this summer and there were definitely some days that were extremely hot. Any time you get in your car and the steering wheel is too hot to touch or you cannot walk barefoot outside without burning your feet, it doesn’t matter where you are, IT IS HOT.
Q: Regarding Blythe, I’ve learned that it sits just across the Colorado River from Arizona and that Interstate 10 runs through it; what else can you say about your hometown?
A: I joke to people about my hometown: “Blythe, you blink once and you miss it twice.” It is a small town literally in the middle of nowhere. Growing up, I did pretty much three things: golfed, went to the river in the summer and went off-roading in the winter. The best thing about Blythe, like many small towns, is how close the community is; everybody pretty much knows everybody.
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Q: If, someday, I’m driving on I-10 from Phoenix to LA and I want to stop for dinner in Blythe, what do you recommend? No chains, please.
A: I hope you like Mexican food. You would have to stop at Garcia’s Restaurant. They have the best Mexican food in town.
Q: How would you characterize the golf scene in eastern Riverside County?
A: We have one course, Blythe Golf Course. But I played a lot of golf in Indio, which is an hour and a half away, and there are nice courses there, like the TPC Stadium Course at PGA West and Indian Wells Golf Resort.
Q: When and where and with whom did you get started with golf?
A: At age 4 I started playing at our local course. My dad (Israel) and his two friends, Bart and Lee, taught me the game. I remember they would tee off and leave me behind at the tee to play the hole by myself. When they finished the hole my dad would come back and get me. That’s how I learned to play.
Q: What do you remember about your first competitive round?
A: I was 9 years old and it was at a par-3 course in Indio. During the round, kids were hitting drivers and I remember thinking, “We are playing par-3s, why are you hitting driver?” I ended up winning with a score of 30 and actually beat every player in the field from all age groups. Oops.
Q: When you committed to Ohio State, in 2015, Donnie Darr was the head coach. But by the time you arrived on campus Jay Moseley was the coach. Did you have second thoughts about coming here?
A: Not really. When I visited Ohio State I fell in love with the campus and the area. I knew this was the place I was supposed to be and Donnie leaving did not change that.
Q: Has it ever been weird to play for someone who didn’t recruit you, or did you guys work that out early?
A: It was a little awkward because I didn’t know what college golf would be like and having a different coach added to that. But Coach Moseley did a great job of getting to know each of us early on, and it has been great playing for him.
Q: Now that you’re a senior, what would you say you’ve learned about yourself in your time here?
A: I enjoy meeting new people now. When I first came to college I wasn’t really like that, but I have found that I like getting to know people and hearing their stories.
Q: And what would you say you’ve learned about Columbus?
A: I’ve learned that Columbus LOVES their Buckeyes. It’s is a proud city when it comes to sports. The fan base in this in this city, not only for the Buckeyes but also the professional teams, is unmatched.
Q: As a SoCal kid in the Midwest, have you managed to find food that works for you?
A: Well, I love Mexican food and I have managed to find a couple spots around Columbus that are really good. For the most part I like the food in the Midwest.
Q: You had a fine showing at the U.S. Amateur this summer at Pebble Beach, qualifying for match play; how was that experience?
A: It was unbelievable. It’s hard to find a course as breathtaking as Pebble Beach. I told my dad that God spent a little more time in Pebble Beach than he did in Blythe. I had friends and family that traveled to watch me play and obviously qualifying for match play was extremely exciting.
Q: There’s a great O-H-I-O photo out there from the Amateur of you and two OSU teammates, Will Grimmer and Daniel Wetterich, and a couple of notable alums; how did that come about?
A: We knew Gary Nicklaus had qualified for the Amateur so we figured there was a chance that Mr. (Jack) Nicklaus might be there. After the players’ dinner, Gary asked us if we wanted to take a couple of pictures with him and Mr. Nicklaus. I think I was more nervous during those photos than anytime playing that week.
O-H-I-Ok, so I need a little work on my O!
Great fun to join couple generations of @OhioState golfers Saturday at @PebbleBeachGolf, as son Gary joins current @OhioStateMGOLF @Calebramirez5, @grimmer12_will & @WetterichDaniel in #usamateurchampionship. My best to all 312 players! pic.twitter.com/3dYPPZFgjX
Q: Besides occasional photo ops with Jack Nicklaus, what is another perk of being an Ohio State golfer?
A: It’s a huge perk having so many great alumni of the team. Some great players have been through this program. Obviously Jack Nicklaus, but also John Cook, Joey Sindelar, Tom Weiskopf and Rod Spittle, among many others. The great thing is that many are still involved with the team.
Q: Would you call the occasional cold-weather round in Big Ten country a blessing or a curse?
A: Oh, man. Cold-weather rounds are a curse in my book. I loathe playing in cold conditions. But that’s one of the reasons I came here. Anybody can play well when it is sunny and 80 degrees, but not everybody can play well when conditions are cold and wet.
Q: Who is your favorite golfer? Is that someone on whom you model your game?
A: I grew up in the Tiger Woods era so he is by far my favorite. I do not model my game after him, but I’m excited that he is back in contention.
Q: What three players would fill out your dream foursome?
A: Michael Jordan, because he is the greatest basketball player ever and I am a huge basketball fan; Vladimir Guerrero, because growing up I played baseball and my favorite team was the Angels; and Jack Nicklaus, because he is the greatest golfer to play the game and while I never got to watch him play, I see the impact he has had on golf.
Q: If you could play only one of these tournaments, would you pick the Masters, the U.S. Open or the British Open?
A: It’s not even close; it would be the Masters. The history of the tournament is unmatched and the tradition of the event is unrivaled. That would be a dream come true.