From Golf to Estonia

Aug. 1, 2011

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Being a student-athlete means giving a year round commitment to your team and academic pursuits. There are times, however, when a student-athlete needs to recharge the batteries and escape from their training and practice demands.

Hawkeye senior Matt Gatens was able to step off the basketball court earlier this summer and enjoy a trip to Washington, D.C., with his dad and family friend for a mid-June mini vacation. Gatens watched the world’s best golfers compete in a major championship at the U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club.

“I’ve always been a big golf fan,” said Gatens. “I grew up playing and watching golf, so it was really fun to be able to go out there and watch the best players in the world compete against one another on a difficult course.”

Gatens was on his high school’s golf team all four years and finished eighth in state his junior year. The Iowa City native said he was amazed at some of the golf shots the pros executed.

“We saw Rory’s (McIlroy) amazing shot from the fairway on the eighth hole on Friday,” said Gatens. “He spun the ball back, and it took like 15 seconds for it to go in. The crowd went nuts. That was the turning point of the tournament. It was pretty awesome seeing Rory tear up the course.”

Gatens was disappointed he wasn’t able to see his favorite golfer, Tiger Woods, but he was able to follow another one of his favorites.

“I was upset when we found out Tiger wasn’t going to be there,” Gatens said. “But, I had a lot of fun watching Zach Johnson. He’s been fun to follow since he hit the PGA Tour and he’s a local guy. We followed him a lot when we were there.”

In addition to traveling to Washington, D.C., Gatens had planned on watching a friend, Tom Gorzelanny, pitch in a Washington Nationals game, but unfortunately, didn’t make it to the game.

After the trip, Gatens returned to Iowa City and resumed individual workouts, strength and conditioning and playing twice a week in the Prime Time League. Gatens, who led the team in scoring (12.6 ppg.) and steals (38) a year ago, and his classmate and backcourt partner Bryce Cartwright will represent the United States on the East Coast All-Star team that will compete in the Four Nations Cup in Tallinn, Estonia.

“I’m pretty excited about it,” said Gatens. “Bryce and I have been talking about it a lot the last couple weeks. I want to embrace this opportunity and enjoy it. It’s going to be fun to experience the different culture. Hopefully, it will be good competition, we’ll get some wins and have some fun.”