UNLV's Ban co-leads at NCAAs while humorously carrying former teammate's bag

UNLV's Ban co-leads at NCAAs while humorously carrying former teammate's bag

Men

UNLV's Ban co-leads at NCAAs while humorously carrying former teammate's bag

STILLWATER, Okla. – Shintaro Ban’s strong spring for UNLV continued Friday with an opening 5-under 67 to share the individual lead at the NCAA Championship.

And his former teammate may get some props for the round as well.

Ban and John Oda, the former Rebels star who skipped his senior season by turning pro last August, have been and remain quite close. The two still live together (along with fellow golf team members Justin Kim and Justin Chong) and as freshmen, Ban drove Oda everywhere because his counterpart didn’t have a license. They’ve been known on several occasions to, by accident, walk out the door dressed virtually the same.

And now, apparently, they’ve shared the same golf bag.

Ban has been using Oda’s old UNLV bag – complete with Oda’s name on it – during the 2018 spring season. It’s a spring in which Ban has won three times and has finished T-13 or better in all but one start. He’s ninth in Golfweek‘s college rankings for the 2017-18 season.

And now he can set up next to professional John Oda … as college John Oda.

“We go practice together and it’s like, ‘Hey, two Johns out here,’ ” Ban said, laughing.

He adds that the bag has caused some humorous confusion this spring.

“A lot of coaches think I’m John as well,” Ban said. “I remember last week at regionals, one asked me, ‘Do you want the flag in or out, John?'”

Shintaro Ban shows off his – err, his former teammate’s – bag at the 2018 NCAA Championship. (Golfweek/Kevin Casey)

He’s heard the jokes as well, Oh are you honoring a legend? 

Teammates were confused at first but eventually joined in on needling the senior.

“In the beginning, I’d always say (to Shintaro), ‘What’s up, John?’” Kim said, smiling.

OK, but why is Ban using Oda’s bag this spring? The reason is simply practical: His own Rebels bag broke.

The UNLV team went on a trip to Australia over winter break. They flew back into Los Angeles, and from there, Ban jumped on a plane to San Francisco to go home. The travel case holding his golf bag was delayed in baggage, though, and when he came back to get it later, he noticed something was off.

“I guess (the case) touched something really hot, because the middle patch was melted,” Ban said. “My bag was fine and everything, I thought, and then I went to go practice later with my brother that day, I picked up (the bag by the) two straps, and the bag just fell.”

So yeah, he needed a new bag but he didn’t feel it was a big deal. With Oda off the team, it made more sense just to use his rather than go through the hassle of getting a new one.

Oda was on board right away. And Ban figured with his college career closing out, it might be fun.

“My last semester, why not?” Ban said. “I’ll take it and represent him.”

Through 18 holes at nationals, he’s doing that just fine.

Latest

More Golfweek
Home