Jun 25, 2019

Driving for greatness

Sophomore standout looking for breakout season

Matt Shaw likes being a leader. And for good reason. Last season when he played on the Fresno State men’s golf team, Shaw was the only the freshman on the team while his teammates were seniors.

Now one year later, Shaw has used his experience from last season to set a high standard for his teammates.

“It’s in the back of your mind to help out the team win,” Shaw said. “When you play well, it helps everyone play good. We’re all here to build off each other.”

Shaw came to Fresno State out of Clovis High where he was the Tri-River Athletic Conference champion.

In 2003, he was named All-League, Shaw, the team’s most valuable player and an All-Valley selection that year, shot a low round of 69 that season.

“I played really well in high school,” Shaw said. “The competition in college is difficult. It’s a different world. There’s a different
level you have to grow between high school and college. All the success in high school means nothing now.”

Fresno State coach Mike Watney knows good talent when he sees it.

“At this point he could be the guy who leads us back with respectability in the national ranking,” said Watney, who also coached PGA players Nick Watney, David Sutherland and Kevin Sutherland. “He’s our veteran with one-year experience at a young age. We have five new guys in the lineup.”

It’s no surprise Watney pegged Shaw as the co-captain this season, after all, Shaw was named the Western Athletic Conference freshman of the year. This season, he averaged a one-over par score of 73 in his first six tournaments played.

“Matt is going to be a very good college player,” Watney said. “He’s very strong, he hits the ball well. He’s among the best players
I’ve coached who has a good wortk ethic. The best that I’ve ever had with someone with his skills.”

But Watney is fortunate to have Shaw because growing up, Shaw never held golf clubs or even took a swing until his dad introduced him to golf at the age of 14.

“My dad and I went to the driving range,” Shaw said. “I messed around and then I talked to my junior high coach from Clark Intermediate. I played football at that time. He asked ‘do you want to play golf?’ “Shaw soon participated in tournaments and began to like golf; so much so, that he decided to forego football.

“I liked it,” Shaw said. “There was a junior state tournament at Copper River and I ended up winning there. That was the biggest moment for sure.”

Shaw is focused to get his team to win the WAC Championships. He knows in order for his team to do well in tournaments and the WAC Championship it all hinges on how well he plays.

“Right now I’m not very happy,” Shaw said. “I’m working on my swing. Hopefully I’ll get it together before the big tournament at the end of year.”

Watney is confident Shaw will do fine.

“College golf is getting so competitive” Watney said. “You have two or three guys in the 72 range and their team is in the top 30s. He has that certain level of comfort and expectation.”

Shaw is hoping to play well, beginning today with the Fresno State Lexus Golf Classic at Sunnyside Country Club.

“It’s always in the back of your mind,” Shaw said. “I get down on myself when I’m not playing well. When you play well it helps everyone else.”

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