Releases

For Immediate Release: April 21, 2010
Contact: John Hartrick(hartrick@binghamton.edu)
Phone: 607-777-6800

Q&A with BU golf standout Jake Katz

Synopsis:
Junior Jake Katz is enjoying another outstanding golf season as the Bearcats' No. 1 man. Katz has six top-10 finishes and five runnerup honors in 2009-10. At the Lafayette Invitational on April 11, he made history by shooting a 6-under-par 66 at the Center Valley Golf Club. That round is the lowest in school history. Katz, a chemistry major with a 3.42 GPA, shared insight into that record-round as well as his background and future goals.)

Can you describe that record round of 66? Did you feel confident from the start?
It was just one of those days where everything clicked, and it was the most complete round I have ever played in tournament golf. I made four birdies, an eagle, and no bogeys. I never really had to grind all day. The longest putt for par I had to make was five feet. Just a great round of golf, and I am very thrilled I played so well, and excited we were able to win the team title. I had been playing well entering the day, and I am always confident entering a round, and I expect myself to shoot under par each time i tee it up. I have, however, shot 8-under before. My lowest previous collegiate round was 3-under at Rutgers last fall.

What were a few of the highlight shots during the round?
After missing two relatively easy birdies on the first two holes, I eagled my 3rd hole. I hit my 3 wood from 265 yards to 20 feet, and made the putt. Also, after my worst tee shot of the day, (a hooked drive into the trees), I punched my second shot near the green, then chipped in for birdie from about 20 yards.

Winning the team's second straight title must have been satsifying.
It's always great to win the team tournament. We beat a great team in Bucknell, and they played great in the final round. We needed every shot in order to beat them. We played really solid as a team the last day especially from our 4th and 5th scores. The team has been working so hard the last couple of weeks, and it is great that everything has come together the last two weeks.

Your record final round was unfolding as Phil Mickelson was locking up his Masters championship. Were you able to follow that event and what do you learn from watching the PGA players?
We watched a lot of the final round on one of my teammates' iPhone. Good thing for technology! And we got home just in time to see Mickelson hole his birdie on 18. Whenever I watch those guys grind for the finish, I always notice how they act down the stretch whether they walk faster, take extra time on putts, etc. And how they perform in the clutch. Watching Phil play so well down the stretch was truly amazing.

How would you assess your game thus far this spring? What personal and team goals do you have for the remaining tournaments?
I am playing the best golf of my life. My putting has never been better, and that is something I have been really working on. I keep telling myself I am the best putter in the world, and so far it's been paying off. My goal for every tournament is to win individually. Unfortunately I have not done that this year, with five second place finishes out of nine tournaments. But as long as the team keeps winning I will take as many second place finishes as there are tournaments. Our team goal is to have five guys playing there best golf come the conference championship, and we are getting closer to that each week. So in two weeks when we go to Texas we will be mentally and physically prepared to win, and expecting to win.

How has your game improved in each of your three collegiate seasons?
I have gotten better each of the last three seasons. I have worked really hard on my game. I have gotten a lot stronger and the workouts with Lori (Gleason, Asst. Strength Coach) have helped me get better, and that makes certain shots a lot easier. I have also played against some really good players nationally which has also helped my game grow.

What are your career goals?
As of now I am taking it year by year. My first goal is to get into Dental School so I have a back-up plan if my professional golf career doesn't pan out. So I do plan on turning pro, but I want to keep playing national amateur tournaments to test my game against the best players in the country.

What are the most enjoyable things about playing golf at Binghamton?
College golf at BU is awesome. We play in great tournaments all over the country. My teammates are great to hang out with on and off the golf course. Coach Herceg makes playing golf at BU all the more enjoyable. He makes us all laugh and is always pushing us to get better.

What do you think most people don't realize about your sport? What is most challenging about golf?
That golf is very much a mental sport. It might take some physical strength to hit the ball far. But to really be good, you have to be 100% focused for all 18 holes. If you lose focus and don't concentrate on each shot individually than you can make a double or triple bogey in a hurry. Consistency is one of the biggest challenges, and this is something that all great golfers strive for. Shooting a sub-par round is great but shooting low scores consistently takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Also, understanding that bad shots are going to occur, the key is to make the bad shots not so detrimental to your final score, and to stay positive throughout the round. Bad breaks and miscues are going to happen, and the quicker you accept this the quicker you will be able to shoot lower scores.

College golf is unique in that it combines individual goals (shooting a low score, placing high) with team goals (winning, cheering for teammates). Talk about that balance.
College golf turns an individual sport into a team event. All 5 guys are at the tournament trying to shoot their lowest score possible. Coach can also help us by telling us what other guys on the team are doing so we can ride the momentum as a team, play well together and feed of of each-other. After the round we eagerly await to see how our score stacked up against the other teams. Recently we have been able to experience the incomparable feeling of winning as a team. Winning a tournament individually is great but getting to enjoy something so thrilling as winning a golf tournament as a team is something you will always remember.

How has Coach Herceg helped you with your game?
Coach has helped my game grow tremendously. He is a great guy and a great coach. He has helped me reach my full potential, and expects a lot from me, which has helped me get better each year. Coach has helped us realize how talented we are as a team, and has set some lofty goals but with three team titles this year and everyone playing so great, it is very exciting to see how much better we will get in years to come.

How old were you when you started playing golf? What individuals helped shape your game?
My grandmother in Florida started me when I was 7. I only started because my grandma thought I should learn how to play. It wasn't until I turned 12 that I realized I was pretty good. Then I started working with a swing coach in Buffalo, Gary Battistoni. He helped my game evolve, and Coach Herceg has then elevated my game since coming to BU.

What other sports did you play growing up?
The other sports played growing up were basketball and soccer. In high school I played varsity tennis and won two sectional championships.

Who is your favorite PGA player?
My favorite pro golfer is Tiger Woods. Ignoring all that has gone in his life the last five months, he is a remarkable athlete. His ability to focus and compete in golf tournaments even when his game is a little off is something to be marveled.

What are you studying at Binghamton?
I am majoring in chemistry. My favorite classes are Organic, Inorganic, and Physical Chemistry. As of now I plan on going to Dental School. I am going to take the Dental Admission test this summer.

Your 66 beat the school-record shared by fellow Western New York native Jeff Wolniewicz. Does that give you any bragging rights?
Jeff is an extremely talented golfer and his college career is something I have always tried to emulate. In fact we have played against each-other in local events, the latest coming this past summer in the finals of the Buffalo District Match Play Championship. He beat me 1-up on the 18th hole. So i guess now that I broke his record that we are even. But setting this record was a goal of mine, and it is great to be in the BU record book, along with all of the great BU golfers that have played here.

How difficult is it to play in some of the weather conditions we get in the Northeast in the late fall and early spring?
Northeast golf is a grind and playing in horrible weather has become second nature to me. The weather at Lafayette on the first day was horrible, with 20 mph wind, and 40 degree weather. Realizing that 75 is a good score on days like that is the hardest part. The colder and windier it is the more you have to focus. Even though you might want to finish as quickly as possible to get inside for some hot chocolate, you have to slow down your thinking and really concentrate. Doing deep breathing, and keeping your body in constant motion is crucial to playing good golf in horrible weather. During my three years here, I have played in sleet, rain, hail, and wind storms, so by now I am prepared to play in just about any type of weather. Even though it might not be enjoyable, you know everyone has to play in the same conditions, and you have to get past not being able to feel your toes or face.

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