Freshman Reece Sanders joined the Minnesota Gophers from The Blake School, where he was a three-time Class AA state champion. As a Gopher, he competed as individual in the Gopher Invitational and SJU Fall Invitational. Sanders sat down with Gopher Sports to talk about the fall, his freshman experience and his Netflix queue.
Gophers Sports: How’s your fall semester been?
Reece Sanders: Fall has been good. Golf didn’t go as well as I would have hoped, but it was really great getting close with all the guys on the team, learning the ropes of school. I’m loving school more than I ever have, which is awesome. With the facilities we have here, it’s more than I could have ever imagined.
GS: What are you planning on majoring in?
RS: I’m trying to transfer into Carlson for my sophomore year, so that’s what I’m working towards. I want to focus on marketing. That’s my ideal path, but if that doesn’t work out I know there’s other options for me in economics or business.
GS: As a Minnesotan, how does it feel to be a Gopher?
RS: Having grown up here, you always root for your hometown. When I was younger, I could never really imagine what it would be like to play at the top level at my hometown school. Being able to play for the University of Minnesota has been beyond a dream come true. It’s a gift, and I appreciate it everyday. I know how many people would want to be in my position, so to be able to be from here and represent the school is one big smile for me.
GS: Do you have a favorite sport to go to at the U?
RS: Hopefully, in the next four years, I’ll say football. Hopefully we can get it turned around. But I’m big into basketball. I love following everything. Guys you watch on TV are suddenly sitting next to you in tutoring, doing the same stuff you’re doing. It’s been cool to meet these guys that I look up to.
GS: What’s your favorite high school golf memory?
RS: I’d say winning the state tournament as a sophomore. It happened, and I was like, “What just occurred?” It didn’t really hit me. It still doesn’t always hit me the way it might hit other people. But I’ll go home, and I have a shadowbox with the medal and newspaper articles. I read it and relive it. It was all-time for me.
GS: How has college golf been different from high school golf?
RS: It’s a lot more. I knew coming in that the commitment is totally different, but in the fall you do 20 hours a week and even more than that on the side. You have practice from 2-5, and you’re up at 8 for class, not getting back to your room until 8:30 or 9. It’s a full day, but my dad says, “I’ll take any of your problems over mine, to be 19 and playing at a Division I school.” It’s a big change, but hopefully in the spring I can get my feet under me more and not be caught off-guard by how much we do.
GS: What are you looking forward to in the spring?
RS: I’m looking forward to hopefully competing in an event. That’s a goal I set for myself--one event in the fall and one in the spring, all four years. I’m looking forward to resetting and putting the fall in the rear-view mirror. I’m looking forward seeing what I can do.
GS: Who’s your favorite professional athlete?
RS: I’d say Bo Jackson. Even though he didn’t play for an extremely long time in the NFL or MLB, to be able to be as dominant as he was in two sports and play it in the same season, that’s unbelievable.
GS: When did you first get into golf?
RS: I first got into golf when I was in fifth or sixth grade. Like every kid, I played Little League baseball up until a certain point, when I looked at my dad and told him, “I don’t want to keep doing this. Let’s go play golf or something.” He was all on board with that, and it just went from there. I made the varsity team in seventh grade and just kept going.
GS: Who would be in your dream golf foursome?
RS: Definitely Arnold Palmer--he has to be in there. Then I’d say Tiger Woods, just because he’s our modern version of Arnold or Jack, with what he’s accomplished. For my last person, I’d say Tim McGraw, the country artist. He’s one of the coolest guys. He gets up on stage, and I’m like, “I want to be you.” That’s a weird foursome, but we’d have a good time.
GS: If you could choose to be good at one other sport, what would it be?
RS: Probably basketball. I can hold my own, but I’m not that good. But if I could be proficient in another sport, it’d definitely be basketball.
GS: What do you like to do for fun?
RS: If you talk to me, the last thing you probably find out is that I’m a golfer here. I’m pretty lowkey. I have a lot of friends from where I grew up who go here, so I like seeing them. I’m really big into cars, so I spend a lot of time looking at and reading about cars. My dad owns a car dealership, so I’ll spend time there with him. It’s nice being in my own backyard, because it can be a Wednesday night and I can go home and sleepover. I’m a pretty normal 19-year-old.
GS: What’s your favorite course that you’ve played?
RS: My favorite that I’ve played is probably TPC Sawgrass in Florida. I played a tournament there and it’s awesome. You play it and then you can watch it on TV, and the similarities are cool to see. But we get to play the best courses around. We get to travel--talk about a great sport to play.
GS: What are you watching on Netflix right now?
RS: I just finished The Punisher, which I highly recommend. Otherwise, I’m watching MindHunter. It’s a group of people who came up with the word “serial killer”, and the psychology behind it. It’s based in the ’60s and ’70s, and it’s really cool.
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The University of Minnesota moved up to 12th place thanks to three Gophers with rounds under par.
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