Ban is maturing while excelling on golf course

Shotaro Ban

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CHICAGO – Shotaro Ban used to have a temper on the course. He thought bad golf shots meant clubs needed to be thrown, or swear words needed to be dropped.

With a bit of help from Cal Bears associate head coach Walter Chun and the fact that Ban is maturing on his own, golf isn't a life-and-death situation anymore. It's about staying cool, calm and collected all the time.

Ban, a rising junior at California, was one of 50 players to make the cut Wednesday afternoon after two rounds of stroke play at the Western Amateur.

Ban shot 69-70 at 7,016-yard The Beverly Country Club, located on the south side of Chicago, for a 3-under 139 total.

Though he’s only halfway through the stroke-play portion of the 112th Western Amateur, Ban has been playing levelheaded golf recently with decent finishes at the Porter Cup (T-15) and the Monroe Invitational (T-8).

“I think the hard work is starting to pay off,” said Ban, 20. “The results aren’t exactly what I wanted, but it’s starting to come along.”

He hopes his recent success continues into his collegiate play this fall.

After finishing as a top-10 team for the third year in a row, Cal has lost many players during the last two seasons and will compete as a very young, inexperienced team in 2014-15. Ban and fellow redshirt junior Keelan Kilpatrick will be the backbone of the team, having played in about 25 events for the Bears – combined.

But Ban and Kilpatrick had the chance to watch and learn from 2013 NCAA individual champion Max Homa and three of four graduating seniors this season – Brandon Hagy, Michael Weaver and Joel Stalter – about what it means to be a leader on a high-profile team.

“It’s not that they taught me (leadership skills) but being around them, they are infectious. Their hard work and discipline, it rubs off on you,” Ban said. “It’s almost impossible for it not too. They just set the example and it rubbed off on me.”

Ban believes this is just the beginning for him. He hopes he and his Bears can continue their success and earn a spot in match play at the NCAA Championships for the third time in four seasons.

“We’ll have to lead the team in the right direction to make sure everyone is practicing and being a role model,” Ban said of himself and Kilpatrick. “Setting a good example, hard work, managing your time well. Those are the main things.

“Golf is such a long journey, you just have to take it one step at a time.”

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