Matt Rawitzer had an up and down season on the golf course. Plagued by tonsillitis, the Bellingham native and senior-to-be at Oregon State University missed four tournaments and didn't record a top ten finish until his final event of the year - the NCAA Stanford Regional. There, however, he finished tied for tenth in a top-quality field and was four shots better than any of his OSU teammates.
Bellinghamgolfer asked Matt about his season, what he's got planned for the summer, and what goals he has for his senior year.
You've had some health issues this year. What are they, when did they start, and what's the prognosis?
This year has been kind of a tipping point for me when it comes to my health. For the last three years I've had recurrent cases of Tonsillitis, and it's gotten more frequent each year. During this school year I got it five times, which was really frustrating more than anything. There wasn't much I could do about it except take antibiotics and wait to recover. Eventually it got to the point where I just needed to get my tonsils removed so I could be healthy. So I had a tonsillectomy a week or so ago, and am currently recovering.
How has it all affected your golf?
I would say having the bad tonsils has affected my golf like most illness affects athletes. It just made it harder to get in long practice sessions and made it more difficult to get the most out of those sessions. As far as being sick during tournaments, I was diagnosed with tonsillitis twice during the course of the year. I felt like I was so used to the symptoms that I knew how to deal with them when it came to crunch time. Obviously my recovery time suffered a bit, but I found ways to play some good golf when sick. I don't like to use it as an excuse, but it was totally out of my control. It's just another form of adversity I had to cope with.
How frustrating was the season, golf-wise?
I struggled quite a bit for the first half of the season or so which drove me crazy at times. There was certainly a longer adjustment period than I had anticipated when I entered school there. It kind of came down to me worrying about the wrong things and letting unnecessary things influence my golf game. It wasn't that I lacked effort, I actually stepped up my work ethic because I was frustrated for so long. Towards the end of the season, I started working with Bill Meyer, a sports psychologist from Bellevue, WA., and there was an immediate improvement. It was nothing technical, just a matter of getting my mental game in the right place. As I've told my coach, Jon Reehoorn, even though I struggled with my game for a while I feel as if I have found a way to get better from it. Every slump I've ever been in has made me better in the long run.
You played so well at the NCAA Regional. That must have felt good.
Playing well at Regionals was a unique kind of mixed feeling. I played well myself even though my tonsils were hurting, and my Grandfather passed away just two days before. I think those things actually helped me in a way because I had a different focus, as though I needed to be playing with a true perspective on life. At the same time, however, our team missed qualifying for the National Championship by just four shots. That was an awful feeling because we had all worked so hard throughout the year to get there but just barely missed it. I said after the final round that I had never felt so bad after shooting 68, knowing it wasn't enough to get us through the regional. Personally I took away tons of positives, like the way I battled through some tough situations, which I think will help me a ton moving forward.
What plans do you have for the summer? Why didn't you play the WSGA Men's Amateur?
I didn't play the WSGA Amateur because we had finals that week and I didn'tt finish until after the tournament had started. The first tournament I have is the Sahalee Players Championship (July 4-6), which I'm really excited about because it is one of the best summer competitions in the country. I'll also be playing in the PNGA Amateur, Canadian Amateur, US Amateur qualifying, and potentially the Pacific Coast Amateur.
6) What are your hopes for next season at OSU?
I have really high hopes. We are fortunate enough to be playing in the Topy Cup in Japan at the beginning of the season, and I cannot wait to start off that way. Our team has a great core group of players and I truly think we will accomplish some big things. Our biggest goal is to play in the NCAA Championship, which I have faith we can do. Personally I only have two main goals for 2012-13. First and foremost, I want to keep improving and get as good as I possibly can. But that's a goal I always have and always will have. My only real specific goal at this point is to be an All-American. I know that I have the opportunity to achieve that given our competitive schedule, so it is going to be a big focus of mine throughout the year. Needless to say, I will have to keep working my butt off to get there. But I have a really good feeling about next year.
7) What part(s) of your game will you be working on this summer?
I'll be working on a lot of the same things I have in the past, as well as some new things. Most importantly, I need to keep improving my putting. I do this using a drill called 'Read and Putt' that I work on with my instructor Craig Welty. I'll also be working hard to develop a better flop/lob shot. I have had some inconsistency with that shot so I need to make it a strength. As far as my swing goes, I'll keep it simple and not make many changes, but rather just get better with it. And I'll keep working with Bill Meyer to improve my mental game.