Player Profile: Shintaro Ban, San Francisco City Champion
By Brentley Romine, Golfweek
Shintaro Ban picked up the biggest victory of
his young career as the 18-year-old UNLV
signee from San Jose,
Calif., won the San Fancisco City Men's
Amateur on March 9 at Presidio Golf Course.
Ban defeated Rick Reinsberg, 8 and 7, in the
Golfweek caught up with Ban to chat with him
about the big victory in San Francisco, his
older brother, Shotaro,
who plays at Cal, and his future college team:
Talk about the big victory in San
Francisco. Now, you were the stroke-play
medalist at the 2012 U.S. Junior in
Straham, N.H., but this one has to be the
biggest win of your young career, am I right?
Definitely one of the biggest wins for my
career because it's not a junior golf
tournament. It was an amateur event
where everyone's there. I'm really honored. .
. . I lost in the Round of 16 last year (at the
event) and made it to
the semifinals my first year (in 2012). . . .
Being medalist at the U.S. Junior, that was my
accomplishment, and I've won several small
tournaments around the Bay Area and
qualified for the 2012 U.S.
Amateur, but this one was pretty big.
You're signed to play for UNLV in the fall.
Have you kept up with the Rebels this season?
I've been texting coach (Dwaine Knight) after
every match, asking him what I could do to
improve and stuff like
that. They had a big win Sunday (at the
Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters).
And what made you ultimately decide to
There were three main reasons. First of all,
obviously, the coaches. Coach Knight, he's
pretty much a legend and
short-game guru. He's the old-timer with
more experience while his assistant J.C.
(Deacon) has more of the youth
thing. He can relate to most college golfers
and is a really good player. No one on the
team has beaten him yet on
the golf course, he tells me. Second, almost
every year someone goes on to play pro golf
at a high level. And
third, the courses and facilities are amazing,
especially Shadow Creek. When I first saw it,
I'm like, 'Wow. I get to
practice and play here whenever I want.'
Your older brother, Shotaro, plays at Cal
and also won an amateur event on March 9 at
the Diablo Valley
Yeah, he called me as soon as I finished. My
mom and his friends were watching me. He
called me and he's like,
'Good win, but dude guess what? I won, too.'
That was pretty awesome.
Why didn't you follow in his footsteps and
sign with Cal?
It just didn't feel right. He told me their coach
was looking at me after the (2012) U.S.
Junior, but I'm glad I chose
Who's the better Ban brother and how
often do people get you guys confused?
I don't know. We're both at the same level.
Whoever has their day is the better one that
day. He always says I'm
younger so I have the advantage, though. His
mental game is stronger, but I have more
hasn't played in a USGA event yet – I've
played in two. And yeah, people get us
confused a lot, especially at the
(San Francisco) City. They thought I was my
older brother and asking me how I like Cal,
and I'm like, 'I'm only a
senior in high school.'
What's your schedule like for the rest of
the spring and summer?
I'm going to play in amateur tournaments
around the Bay Area for the rest of the spring
and then in the summer,
I'm going to try to get into some invitationals
like the Monroe Invitational, the Trans-Miss
What is your biggest goal right now?
I'd love to play in the U.S. Amateur again.
Describe your game for those who aren't
familiar with it.
My strength is my tee shot with driver. I'm
short – 5-foot-8 – and 135 pounds, but I can
constantly hit the ball 300
yards. I also set myself up pretty good off the
tee. Putting is probably my second strongest
part of my game. I've
been working a lot on it.
What's one thing most of your fellow golf
peers don't know about you?
Most of the time, if there's daylight, I try to
(play) golf as much as I can. I like to play
basketball, too, and I
actually used to swim competitively with my
brother when I was younger. That was our
main sport before we
turned over to golf. We actually both picked
up golf pretty late, too (12 years old).