1870 Mag

Sidelines with Rio Watanabe

When’s the last time you heard of someone who lived in three continents for a significant amount of time, before they were old enough to vote? Never. You’ve never heard of that before, until Rio.

Okay, maybe you have, but it’s the principle. She was second-team All-Big Ten as a freshman, hates watching golf on TV, and was fooled into getting started in the first place. She’s one of a kind.

Rio Watanabe, who just finished up her senior golf season at Ohio State, grew up in Japan, moved to Australia ahead of high school, and came to the United States for college. And not just the U.S., but Columbus, Ohio.

Girl knows her stuff.

What was growing up like?

While I was in Japan, I never had free time to spend with my friends because of golf and studying. When I moved to Australia, I lived right in front of the school and the golf course, so it made my life so easy!

What got you into golf?

My parents tricked me. They knew they wanted to me to play golf but didn’t force me to start. For a while my parents took me to the driving range but never let me hit a golf ball. One day, I said “I wanna play golf” and my parents registered me to golf lessons. The teacher was strict so I wanted to quit but I couldn’t, because I was the one who started it…[laughs]. And here I am, loving the game of golf. I am very thankful that my parents let me start playing and didn’t let me quit.

Why Ohio State?

I didn’t know too much about Ohio State when I was getting recruited from Australia. However, strong academics and a huge alumni network, as well as great golf history were very attracting. Also, I had a good first impression of Coach Hession, who is very caring and supportive.

Photo provided by the Ohio State University Department of Athletics.

What’s your favorite moment of your golf career?

Playing match play at Nationals last year! Elite 8!!

Who’s your favorite pro golfer?

I don’t have one…I think golf is a very boring sport to watch.

What’s the worst score you’ve ever had on a hole?

Hmm I’m not too sure. I am great at forgetting. But I know I had 180 for 18 holes at a tournament when I was about 8 years old.

Funniest moment on the course?

Recently, when we were playing at Big Ten Championships on the last day, Jaclyn (Lee) was crying on the 8th hole. Sorry, it’s not funny but that was funny. It’s a joke in between us that when Jaclyn freaks out and cries, she plays so good. So I was kind of relieved that she was crying. I totally knew she could play well. She ended up winning the Big Ten individually and I am very proud of her!

Favorite golf movie?

I’d rather read a boring journal article for my class than watch a golf movie in my free time.

If you could play a round with anyone in history, dead or alive, who would it be?

My perfect foursome golf group would be….Jesus Aguilar (#24 for MLB Milwaukee Brewers), David Savard (#58 for the Blue Jackets) and Seth Jones (#3 for the Blue Jackets).

Favorite warm-up song from middle school?

The Climb by Miley Cyrus.

Chris Pennington

Chris Pennington


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