GoHuskies.com unveils a new weekly feature that will promote the University's student-athletes who continue to shine both in and out of the classroom. Below is an interview with UW Golf sophomore, Jonathan Sanders.
GoHuskies: First of all, congrats on your weekend! The team is going to Nationals, and you got an individual win. How do you feel coming off such a big weekend?
Jonathan Sanders: Thank you, I feel pretty good individually. I played pretty well at Regionals and I’m looking forward to Nationals to have a chance to get back to back wins. I think it’s a course that will suit my game pretty well, that’s what my coaches have said so, I’m looking forward to just having a chance coming down the stretch.
GoHuskies: Let’s start at the beginning, how did you start playing golf?
JS: Well my dad played and I have an older brother by two years who plays golf competitively too, so my brother and I would always go out with him to the range and just run around and kind of have fun when we were little kids.
GoHuskies: So it’s a family sport?
GoHuskies: Did you play any other sports?
JS: Yeah, I took soccer pretty seriously. I played club until the tournaments started to conflict and then, I think I picked the right one with golf.
GoHuskies: What made you pick golf?
JS: I don’t know, I kind of like the individual aspect of it. I mean it’s awesome having a team here at school, but when you go out there it’s all on you. You can’t really blame anyone else or anything, so I like that.
GoHuskies: You went to a pretty small high school, what was it called and how many students were there?
JS: It was about 400 kids and it was called New Community Jewish High School.
GoHuskies: How was the transition going from a 400 student high school, to a 43,000 student University?
JS: It’s a little different but still, being on the golf team kind of makes it a little smaller, and being in the athletic department. It’s kind of weird though, walking around, I used to know everybody and now I don’t really know anyone.
GoHuskies: What are you planning on majoring in?
GoHuskies: What about Communications interests you?
JS: I mean, for the rest of my life I’ll be communicating with other people so being able to understand how to do that affectively, I think could be a huge advantage.
GoHuskies: Since golf is such a travel-heavy sport, how have you balanced golf and school, especially during season?
JS: It’s tough but it’s doable. With tutors and the support of the athletic department it’s not too bad. You just have to be disciplined. I mean, it kind of gets in the way of a social life, but it’s worth it.
GoHuskies: Does the team have any special rituals or things you guys do when you’re getting ready to compete?
JS: We go over the course every night before the first round. We all sit around and we all go through a hole but that’s really it.
GoHuskies: Any music or chants or anything?
JS: No. I don’t know, we always have fun in the car driving there because our coach is a good driver and he’s pretty aggressive so it’s fun. It’s fun driving there.
GoHuskies: You’ve had an impressive spring season this year with five top-10 finishes and four tournaments where you finished as the top Dawg. What do you think has changed from fall season to spring season and how have you been able to have that much success so far?
JS: My scores were terrible in the fall but I didn’t feel like I was playing that bad, so I kind of knew I was close. I needed a little something extra to really push me over the edge to have a good year, and when I missed Prestige at PGA West, I didn’t travel with the team and it was the first tournament I’ve missed in a long time. I mean, that really hit home and we had some guys that were playing so well that if I wanted to be here at the PAC12s, Regionals, Nationals, I was going to have to play well. I put myself in a spot where I had to perform well, and I was lucky I did.
GoHuskies: Golf is an interesting sport, like tennis, because you’re an individual but you are a team of individuals, so how does that affect the team dynamic?
JS: It’s awesome because when we go out there, the best way to help your team is to win the tournament individually and to not worry about what the other guys are doing. You’re just trying to beat them really. So you’re out there, you’re trying to beat these guys but you’re also rooting for them. It’s fun because after the round, whether you do good or bad, everyone is pumped and when someone does have a good round we don’t get jealous and we’re not like “aww you beat me” but we’re always excited when we play well.
GoHuskies: You earned your first big tournament win at the Bandon Dunes Championship earlier this spring, what did winning that tournament mean to you?
JS: Well it was one of goals this year, was to win a tournament. I played well down the stretch which gave me a lot of confidence kind of coming in to the rest of the season, knowing that if I am in a situation like that, that I can succeed.
GoHuskies: What was your mindset coming off that kind of win a continuing to the next competition?
JS: As awesome as it was, what you did last week doesn’t matter when it comes to what you do this week. At the NCAAs, it’s a clean slate. Everyone is teeing it up even. Not forgetting about it, but just knowing that it’s not really going to help me this week. I mean, knowing that I won last week can help me play better but it’s not an advantage really. I just have to go out there and try to do what I did last week.
GoHuskies: As a young player on the team, what do you feel your role has been this year and how has it changed much since you first got here?
JS: Well last year, I played the five guy towards the end. That spot was just trying to play solid, maybe have a good round here or there but this year, our lead Dawg, Pan (Teammate Cheng-Tsung Pan), he’s the kind of guy that’s out in front. He’s our number one player, and we’re lucky to have him, he’s an awesome player and guy. So, I just kind of see myself… I mean it’s changed a little these last couple months but I think now my golf is in a place where I can go out and kind of be a leader on the team and try to lead us to some wins. We have a lot of good players, so I don’t really need to do too much for us to do well because everybody plays their part well and everyone is playing pretty well right now.
GoHuskies: How does it feel coming out of a big tournament like Regionals and going straight in to Nationals and another even bigger tournament? I think you guys leave tomorrow?
JS: We leave Wednesday morning so yeah, I like it personally. The week before Regionals was tough because it’s what you’re looking forward to and you just want it to be here already. Coming off Regionals, all we’re thinking about is Nationals. You don’t really want to do anything else, you just want to be there and ready, so to have a quick turnaround is nice. You just come back, do what you need to do for a couple of days, and then we’re right back it this week. I love it.
Favorite Athlete: Tiger Woods
Favorite Golfer: Adam Scott
Favorite Movie: The Internship
Favorite Musical Artist/Group: Lil Boosie
Favorite Gatorade Flavor: Lemon-Lime
Favorite Class at UW: Classics 330 – The Age of Augustus
Favorite UW Team to Watch: Women’s Volleyball
Favorite UW Athlete to Watch: Pan (Teammate Cheng-Tsung Pan)